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Challenges faced by water services staff during summer 2018

Summer 2018 was anything but normal in Ireland. Increased temperatures brought many benefits but also many problems for service providers. According to the Lord Mayo of Galway, Councillor Neil McNeilis, visitor numbers to the city look likely to exceed 2.5 million, the highest since the mid-2000s. While these numbers were a welcome boost for the local economy, the drought put immense pressure on the city’s water reserves.

Water Conservation Order (Hosepipe Ban) was introduced

This drought also threw up many new challenges for Irish Water, who working in partnership with the local authorities, are the guardians of Ireland’s water and wastewater infrastructure. In the Greater Dublin Area a Water Conservation Order (Hosepipe Ban) was introduced to try to reduce the public’s consumption at a time when water supplies were diminishing on a daily basis. This was coupled with extensive leakage repair works across the country which has saved millions of litres of waters. The hosepipe ban was then extended across the whole country and remains in place in some eastern and southern areas.

Night time water restrictions were imposed to ensure consistent supply

Across the country there are areas where night time water restrictions had to be imposed to ensure a consistent supply of water for residents and businesses during the day, including in Galway City. In other areas water pressures were reduced. These measures were taken because the situation was serious. The drought was real and there was a danger that come the end of the summer and the autumn, the situation would be even more critical if raw water supplies did not recover.

Low levels of rain fall, coupled with increases in water demand meant that it was a busy summer for the staff of Irish Water and their colleagues in the Water Services section of Galway City Council. The Lord Mayor spent a morning recently with David Kingsland from Galway City Council and Sean Corrigan from Irish Water to learn of the challenges to keep Galway City in water throughout an extremely dry and busy summer, especially during Arts Week and Race Week when visitor numbers were at a peak.

Public awareness campaign was launched to help conserve water

Like many parts of the country, at the beginning of the summer the water demand for Galway City increased by unsustainable levels of over 10 percent. A public awareness campaign was launched, and the water conservation measures carried out in many homes across the city played a major role in bringing the demand down to manageable levels.

“Without the help of the general public we would have run into difficulties,” commented Sean Corrigan.  “There was also a lot of work carried out by Galway City Council staff on behalf of Irish Water. Long, late hours were worked at the water treatment plant in Terryland. The intake where the water for the city is abstracted had to be altered and the Galway City leak detection crews who find up on 1,000 leaks per year were flat out working, looking for leaks to bring down the demand.”

“Finding leaks can be difficult, water does not always rise to the surface when a leak occurs,” David Kingsland, a leak detection specialist working for Galway City Council explained. “There is approximately 260 kilometres of water network across Galway City, and a major leak can happen any time, day or night. If a sudden burst is big enough it can drain the city’s supply. When that happens it is all hands on deck. Large leaks are often easy to find, although we had one recently which lost 200,000 litres of water per hour that didn’t surface. It is the large amount of smaller leaks that cause the most difficulties as they are harder to find and you need to repair a large number of them to make any impact.”

Public helped keep the city's water supplies constant

The public played a major role in helping to keep the city’s water supplies constant during the drought and for that Irish Water and Galway City Council are thankful.

Commenting on his morning looking for leaks Lord Mayor McNeilis added: “There is a lot of work planned for Galway City this year and next which has a very large financial cost. Communications on these proposed works is key, and a commitment has been given by Irish Water and Galway City Council to ensure that public are kept informed. Under investment over the past decades has led to the urgency of these works.”

More Information

For information on all our upgrade works taking place across the country visit our Projects and Plans page.

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