Update 3pm 8 July 2020 - Water Conservation Order better known as the hosepipe ban has been lifted

Following recent heavy rainfall and improving river and ground water conditions, Irish Water has lifted the Water Conservation Order, more commonly known as the hosepipe ban that was put in place with effect from 9 June. The Water Conservation Order was issued in a bid to safeguard water supplies for essential purposes, in particular water needed for sanitation purposes during the COVID-19 crisis. View Rescission of Water Conservation Order.

Earlier this week, Irish Water again met with key groups including Met Éireann to discuss the forecast and the OPW and EPA who monitor the levels of lakes and rivers to review and assess their data. 

The Water Services Act, which allows for a Water Conservation Order, requires Irish Water to ‘form the opinion’ that ‘a serious deficiency of water available for distribution exists or is likely to exist.’ Following a review of Irish Water data together with the latest information from Met Éireann, the OPW and the EPA, the utility is now in a position remove the Water Conservation Order from 5pm on Wednesday 8 July.

Recovery of some water supplies

When the Water Conservation Order was issued 27 of Irish Water’s 900 drinking water schemes, were in drought with another 50 at risk of going into drought. Thereafter the situation deteriorated rapidly with the number of schemes in drought or at risk of drought peaking at 98.

Thankfully from a water supply perspective over the past couple of weeks there has been above average rainfall in many areas of the country. This has resulted in the recovery of some of the water supplies that were in drought or at risk of drought. Currently only 17 schemes remain in drought and a further 61 are at risk. While the overall numbers are trending downwards, the situation is not uniform across the country and the recovery of some sources is very fragile.

Continuing to monitor affected sources

Commenting on the lifting of the Water Conservation Order, the Managing Director of Irish Water Niall Gleeson said “Irish Water is continuing to monitor the affected water sources as their recovery is fragile and subject to change. We will continue to liaise with Met Eireann, the OPW, the EPA and other key stakeholders to discuss the impact of weather on our sources. Should we enter a spell of prolonged warm and dry weather, and if the sources go into drought again, we many need to reconsider and re-impose a Water Conservation Order. Safeguarding the water supply for homes and communities across the country is a critical priority for us.”

“It is really important that members of the public develop good household habits at this time and conserve water, regardless of rainfall. Any non-essential use of water should be discouraged, whether we are in a drought or not.

“We would like to thank the public for their efforts in conserving water in their homes and gardens over the past number of weeks and to remember those good household habits should the good weather return. Thanks also to our large water users who have worked proactively with us to use water more efficiently in their businesses. We are grateful for their diligence at this time.”

Water conservation advice

For helpful advice and guidance on how you can conserve water at home and in your business, please visit our Water Conservation page.

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Previous updates

Need for Water Conservation Order to be reviewed following heavy rainfall

Following recent heavy rainfall and improving river and ground water conditions Irish Water is reviewing the need for the Water Conservation Order, more commonly known as the hosepipe ban.

The National Water Conservation Order was put in place on 9 June and was expected to remain in place until 21 July. It was issued in a bid to safeguard water supplies for essential purposes, in particular water needed for sanitation purposes during the COVID-19 crisis.

Recovery of some water supplies

Met Eireann confirmed that May 2020 was the driest since 1850 and continued dry weather was forecast. When the Water Conservation Order was issued 27 of Irish Water’s 900 drinking water schemes, were in drought with another 50 at risk of going into drought. Thereafter the situation deteriorated rapidly with the number of schemes in drought or at risk of drought peaking at 98.

Thankfully from a water supply perspective over the past couple of weeks there has been above average rainfall in many areas of the country. This has resulted in the recovery of some of the water supplies that were in drought or at risk of drought. Currently only 22 schemes remain in drought and a further 63 are at risk. While the overall numbers are trending downwards, the situation is not uniform across the country.

How are we monitoring the situation?

Irish Water is continuing to monitor these water sources as their recovery is fragile and subject to change. Early next week Irish Water will again meet with Met Eireann, the OPW, the EPA and other key stakeholders to discuss the impact of the recent rainfall with consideration to lifting or partially lifting the Water Conservation Order.

Commenting on the evolving situation, the MD of Irish Water Niall Gleeson said “While some areas of the country have had significant rainfall it has not been equally distributed in all of the areas that are most in need. It is encouraging to see the improvement in so many of the water sources, but this recovery is fragile. That’s why input from Met Eireann on the forecast and the OPW and EPA who monitor the levels of lakes and rivers is so important.

Essential to continue to conserve

“The Water Services Act requires Irish Water to form the opinion that there is an urgent need for the Water Conservation Order and it can only be applied where and when it is necessary. Irish Water needs to form the opinion that ‘a serious deficiency of water available for distribution exists or is likely to exist.’ We are now in a position where we need to judge whether the deficiency of water continues to satisfy the criteria set out in the Water Services Act and if this criteria can be applied nationally or whether we can remove the Water Conservation Order for certain parts of the country.

“It is still essential that members of the public continue to conserve water and form good household habits at this time. Any non-essential use of water should be discouraged, whether we are in a drought or not.

“We would like to thank the public for their efforts in conserving water in their homes and gardens over the past number of weeks and our large water users who have worked proactively with us to use water more efficiently in their businesses.”

Water conservation advice

For helpful advice and guidance on how you can conserve water at home and in your business, please visit our Water Conservation page.

National Water Conservation Order in place to safeguard supply for essential purposes

Irish Water has confirmed that a National Water Conservation Order commonly referred to as a hosepipe ban will be 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 and increase in commercial demand as businesses are reopening is being exacerbated by warm weather and the widespread emergence of drought conditions. 
 
The Water Conservation Order has been issued in a bid to safeguard water supplies for essential purposes. Advertisements will appear in the national papers today (Monday 8 June) in line with statutory requirements outlining the prohibition of the use of garden hoses and other non-essential uses of water. View the Water Conservation Order.

Met Eireann has confirmed that May 2020 was the driest since 1850. Their data shows that temperatures were above average in nearly all areas and rainfall totals in every county were below average for the season, with the Greater Dublin Area, Westmeath, Sligo and Tipperary experiencing their driest spring on record. 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 900 drinking water schemes, 27 currently are in drought and 50 are at risk of going into drought. The weather forecast is for a continuation of drier than normal conditions which will further exacerbate the situation.
 
Irish Water’s data shows dramatic spikes of water usage on very sunny days. During the June Bank holiday, the exceptionally warm saw an equivalent daily increase of water usage for an additional 200,000 people being used in the Greater Dublin Area. This increase in demand was replicated across the country. Given the current pressures on the water sources, this level of demand cannot be accommodated in the coming weeks.
 
The amount of rainfall needed to replenish supplies varies around the country and is site specific however Irish Water estimate that a minimum accumulation of 100mm rainfall spread over a number of weeks would be required and normal rainfall levels after that before the threat to water sources would pass.
 
The Conservation Order prohibits the use of garden hosepipes and other non-essential uses of water by domestic users and commercial premises for non-commercial activities for example watering gardens attached to a business premises. The Water Conservation Order (hosepipe ban) will be in place until midnight on Tuesday 21 July.

Niall Gleeson, Managing Director, said “Irish Water’s top priority during the current dry period is to protect our water supply for use in homes and businesses and for essential sanitation during the Covid-19 crisis. As demand continues to outstrip supply and the dry weather looks set to continue, Irish Water has taken the extra step of implementing a Water Conservation Order.
 
“It is very clear from Irish Water’s data that that warm weather creates a surge in demand of water. Such weather brings people into their gardens and makes the use of hoses more likely. Similarly with children confined to home, it can be tempting to use paddling pools etc., however, using a hosepipe for one hour is the equivalent of the daily water usage of an average family and this is evidently a non-essential use of water.”
 
”Irish Water will continue to analyse water consumption levels nationally while the National Water Conservation Order is in place. It is essential that our water supply is protected if we are to avoid restrictions and outages over the coming weeks and months.”

 
“During this time we are supporting and advising our commercial large water users on their conservation efforts and we are grateful for all of the measures they have taken so far. We are also working with our Local Authority partners and others to ramp up leak detection and repair, particularly in water stressed areas.”

“There are lots of helpful tips for conserving water on water.ie but the key messages 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.”

Water conservation advice

For helpful advice and guidance on how you can conserve water at home and in your business, please visit our Water Conservation page.

Morning Ireland

Listen to Niall Gleeson, Managing Director, on RTÉ's Morning Ireland discussing the hosepipe ban.

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