As drought conditions continue across the country, Irish Water would like to applaud the excellent work being undertaken by their own staff, local authority staff and especially care takers of water supply schemes who have gone above and beyond to ensure a consistent water supply for all customers.

This drought has thrown 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 are 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 until the end of August.

Across the country there are areas where night time water restrictions have had to be imposed to ensure a consistent supply of water for residents and businesses during the day. In other areas water pressures have been reduced. These measures are being taken because the situation is serious. The drought is real and there is a danger that come the end of the summer and during the autumn, the situation will be even more critical if raw water supplies do not recover.

One particular supply in Co Sligo, the North Sligo Public Water Supply, was at risk at the start of July when the source had almost dried up. The attached photos demonstrate the seriousness of the situation and help illustrate the lengths Garry Dykes, the scheme’s caretaker had to go to, to ensure planned outages didn’t need to be imposed and the 4,377 customers supplied by the scheme continue to enjoy an uninterrupted supply.

Garry Dykes - North Sligo public water supply scheme caretaker
Garry Dykes - North Sligo public water supply scheme caretaker

North Sligo Public Water Supply

Following recent rainfall, the North Sligo scheme, which was classified by Irish Water as being in drought condition has been removed from this category and water levels are rising at the three sources.

The main raw water source for the North Sligo PWS is the Gortnaleck Stream which is subject to potential drought conditions following prolonged dry periods. This is supplemented by the Lyle Stream when there is insufficient water to meet customers demand and reduced river flows downstream which could compromise the environment and habitats. There is a third pumped source at Ardnaglass when there is insufficient raw water at the other two main sources to keep reservoirs full. The caretaker has used all of these supplies where appropriate over the past weeks to maintain supply. When you consider the scheme had full raw water availability at the water treatment plant on June 21 and by July 3 the source was in a potential drought condition, this shows how quickly the situation escalated.

North Sligo water source drought conditions
North Sligo water source drought conditions

To explain in more technical terms the measures that were taken by Garry, he had to monitor the network flow data for leaks and bursts and report leaks for repairs to be complete by network maintenance crews, he had to continuously ensure water was conserved at the treatment plant, he had to put measures in place to ensure raw water was contained at the three sources and direct it to the intake to maximise input to the plant. When the main source dried off, the supplementary sources had to be utilised to augment the raw water supply to the treatment plant. Importantly the caretaker also had to continuously monitor the final treated water quality to ensure it complied with the drinking water regulations at all times before being distributed through the network for consumption.

This involved early mornings, late nights, unsociable hours and dedication to his job.

Garry has done an amazing job in tough conditions, but he wasn’t alone. There are hundreds of other care takers, local authority staff and Irish Water staff right across the country who have worked tirelessly during these difficult conditions to maintain a water supply to our thousands of customers.

North Sligo water source normal conditions
North Sligo water source normal conditions

Sligo

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