Irish Water has confirmed that the Kilsellagh drinking water supply is at a critical drought status and urges customers in the entire Sligo town area to increase their efforts to conserve water.

Less than two weeks ago, Irish Water issued a National Water Conservation Order in a bid to safeguard supplies for essential purposes. A National Water Conservation Order commonly referred to as a hosepipe ban is in place from Tuesday 9 June until Tuesday 21 July. Four weeks ago, Irish Water urged the public to choose handwashing over power washing as domestic water usage increased as people stayed at home in response to the Covid-19 crisis. Now, the increased domestic demand in Sligo and increase in commercial demand as businesses are reopening is being exacerbated by lower than normal rainfall and the widespread emergence of drought conditions.

Since March Irish Water has been carefully monitoring all of its raw water sources, that is the water from lakes, rivers, springs and ground sources that feed our water treatment plants. Of Irish Water’s five drinking water schemes in Sligo, Kilsellagh water treatment plant is currently in drought status. Although the short term weather forecast is indicating rainfall, the volume may not be significant enough to replenish the raw water source known locally as the Impoundment Dam at Kilsellagh. Irish Water working with Sligo County Council has taken measures to alleviate demands on Kilsellagh over the last two weeks by utilising the Foxes Den water treatment plant as much as possible. However, this has meant that the Foxes Den plant is operating at its maximum capacity. If significant rainfall and reduction in demands over the next week or so are not realised, restrictions on the water supply may have to be imposed.

Speaking about the developing situation, Georgina O’Reilly, Irish Water’s Asset Operations Lead for Sligo said “We are appealing to the public to redouble their efforts in conserving water in the home and in the garden. With so many people staying at home during the Covid-19 crisis, domestic demand for water increased by 20% at a time when our water treatment plants were working at maximum capacity. The water levels being observed at the Impoundment Dam at Kilsellagh are lower than ever historically seen.

“The decrease in the commercial use of water could not off-set the increase in domestic demand. Some of our highest water users include hospitals, food and pharmaceutical manufacturing, all of which used the same amount of water as normal during the Covid-19 crisis. With more businesses opening up from June 29th, further demands are inevitable.

“We are appealing to consumers in Sligo Town, Kilsellagh, Rosses Point, Cregg, Glackbaun, Calry, Strandhill, Grange East, Breeoge, Kilmacowen, Ballysadare, Collooney, Kilross, Ballintogher, Ballygawley, Aghamore and surrounding areas to help conserve the water supplies as much as possible.

 “The prolonged dry weather has exacerbated the demand on water. A drought means that the water sources like rivers, lakes, springs and ground water that supply the treatment plants are struggling, so at a time when all of the water we produce is being used, the amount we can produce is under threat in several areas around the country.

 “There are lots of helpful tips for conserving water on but the key things are to leave the hose and the pressure washer in the shed; don’t use paddling pools; reuse household water for the garden; and take shorter showers. Safeguarding the supply of water is essential at this time when handwashing and hygiene is of critical importance. We are calling on everyone to play their part.”

Irish Water is working at this time, with our Local Authority partners, contractors and others to safeguard the health and well-being of both staff and the public and to ensure the continuity of critical drinking water and wastewater services. Irish Water would like to remind people to follow the HSE COVID-19 advice and ensure frequent handwashing.


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