Update on message on Lough Owel Water Levels

Irish Water is closely monitoring the water levels in Lough Owel. We are continuing to ask customers to conserve their water usage for the foreseeable future due to the unseasonably dry weather conditions over last autumn, winter and spring.  The low rainfall since October last has resulted in the water level of Lough Owel being much lower than normal for this time of year. This situation is likely to continue over the summer months and into the autumn of 2017. Lough Owel is not unique and the water levels in other lakes and rivers across the country were lower than normal heading into Spring/Summer 2017. It will be many months before some water sources including Lough Owel are back up to regular/normal levels. The short heavy bouts of rainfall being experienced at this time of year are not sufficient to recharge the levels. Temperatures at this time of year are also warmer which adds to the reduction in lake level of Lough Owel through water losses through evaporation.

The table below shows the most up to date information on rainfall levels recorded by Met Éireann at the Mullingar Weather Station over the last three years. This highlights the decrease in rainfall from October 2016 up to April 2017.

Rainfall levels recorded by Met Éireann at Mullingar Weather Station

Year JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
2015 92.9 53.7 n/a 64.2 135.3


76.5 97.1 39.2 57.6 184.4 274.3


121.9 111.8 58.2 91.2 61.6 130.3 70.1 98.6 90.5 33.9 50.7 69.5


41.4 75.2 83.7 14.1                

Source www.met.ie

The current daily water demand to supply the area served by Lough Owel is  18,000m³/day (4,069,431 gallons per day).To help mitigate the lack of rainfall and to conserve water we have intensified our water conservation activities by finding and fixing leaks in the Mullingar Regional Water Supply Scheme. To date we have repaired 168 leaks this year on the public water main network on the Mullingar Regional Water Supply Scheme. Irish Water also recently replaced a defective water main at Milltownpass which was frequently bursting.

Irish Water is also carrying out its First Fix Free programme in Westmeath and has notified 1,729  customers where a potential leak has  been registered at their property following a meter reading. These properties are identified when a constant flow alarm is recorded at a property showing that water is constantly running.  Customers who have received a letter indicating a potential leak at their property should contact Irish Water, if they haven’t done so already, to request a free leak investigation. We will then issue them with a First Fix Repair Scheme offer detailing the terms and conditions of the repair. Irish Water will repair the first leak within the boundary of their property that is outside of their home.

We have also issued regular communications through the media and engaged with elected representatives to raise awareness in the community around conserving water. We will continue to communicate with customers to encourage them to conserve water. Conserving water now will benefit the whole community. Small changes made now by individuals in how they use water will have a positive impact on reducing water demand in the water distribution network. Irish Water only takes water from the lake in direct response to the demand created by our customers in the network. Any reduction in customer demand will assist in reducing the rate of fall in the level of the lake, Lough Owel, and will benefit everyone in the area.

At this time we are continuing to ask the public to conserve water now as it will help to reduce the possibility of water restrictions being introduced at a later date. A decision to introduce restrictions does not come lightly as it may impact on many vulnerable, commercial and institutional customers. Irish Water also does not wish to add to water loss by putting stress on sections of water main that could burst through water being turned on and off.

For the moment Irish Water is asking its customers to be vigilant around their own water consumption. We request any customers who are aware of leaks in their own properties to repair these leaks and  are asking the public to make Irish Water aware of any leaks on the public water main network by calling its call centre at 1850 278278 or by filling in the form on our website www.water.ie

Real changes people can make to conserve water include:

  • Leak free: Check that your home is leak free. Check for running overflows and fix any dripping taps, cisterns or pipes.
  • Don’t let the tap run: Brushing your teeth with the tap running can use up to a staggering 6 litres per minute. Brushing your teeth with the tap off will use a more modest 1 litre of water.
  • Shower vs. Bath: The average bath uses 80 litres of water compared to an average shower using 49 litres in seven minutes. Switch your bath to a shower for a massive water saving.
  • Less time: With the average shower using 7 litres of water per minute by turning your five minute shower into four minutes, you could save up to 7 litres of water per day!
  • Fully loaded: Always ensure your dishwasher and washing machines are fully loaded. A modern washing machine uses approximately 65 litres of water per cycle while a dishwasher uses 20 litres. By ensuring they are fully loaded, not only will you conserve water but you will also reduce your energy bills.
  • Don’t flush it all away: A third of all water used in the home is flushed down the toilet. Some larger cisterns can continue to work effectively with a smaller flush. Place a displacement device (such as a brick) into the cistern (out of the way of moving parts) to save water.
  • Don’t forget to collect:  When it does rain we encourage people to collect it in a water butt from your gutters but always make sure to securely cover the large container for safety.


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