Urgent appeal to people of West Cork to reduce their water usage as water supplies reach critical levels

19 August 2022

Irish Water is making a strong and urgent appeal to the people of West Cork to make every effort to conserve water as drought conditions are causing a severe depletion of water supplies. 

Demand has surged in this scenic area due to seasonal tourism combined with the ongoing dry weather. Night-time restrictions are currently in place in areas across the region along with tankering to top up some water supplies that are dangerously low.

View list of affected areas

The public is being asked to:

  • Avoid power washing and keep the garden hose in the shed
  • Take shorter showers and refrain from baths unless absolutely necessary
  • Check for leaks on outdoor taps or troughs as these can lead to large losses of treated water
  • Remember that paddling pools and swimming pools can use huge volumes of water so please refrain from using at this time and if already filled consider reusing the water for the garden or cleaning the car
  • Report any visible leaks on the public network to Irish Water at water.ie or call 1800 278 278. 
  • Where householders experience very low flow or pressure, lower than neighbouring properties, they may have a service pipe leak. Irish Water’s First-Fix-Free Scheme can help with the location and repair of external leaks. Details at water.ie or call 1800 278 278

Speaking about this urgent need to conserve water, Irish Water’s Regional Operations Manager Ian O’Mahony said:

We are appealing to residents, businesses and the farming community in West Cork to reduce their water usage as the situation is reaching a critical level. West Cork is a beautiful and busy place at the best of times, but in the summer, it is even busier. Many people will be spending time outdoors, watering the garden or washing cars, etc. We are asking people to be sensible about how they use their water so that we have enough for everyone during the daytime and that the businesses of West Cork can continue to operate as normal."

Ian continued:

Since November 2021 rainfall in West Cork has been below average for every month except June, when compared to historical rainfall records. This has impacted our water resources as they need time to replenish, and it will take 6-8 weeks of rainfall to do that.

Added to this we have had a heatwave with only 1.4mm of rainfall recorded at Roches Point since last Sunday. 

To exacerbate this, the long-range forecast predicts below average rainfall for the next two weeks which is why we are making this strong appeal to the people of, and visitors to, West Cork at this time. 

In a nutshell, a surge in demand coupled with the dry weather has led to seriously stressed water supplies in West Cork and we are asking people to play their part to conserve water and ensure a continuous day time supply for all.

It’s important that we all consider our water usage and look at simple yet impactful ways to conserve water. It can sometimes be difficult to know where to start, but even small changes can make a significant difference – and we can all play our part. To help people do this Irish Water has developed an easy-to-use conservation calculator so that you can work out how much water you are currently saving and how you can conserve even more. The free Water Conservation Calculator is available on the Irish Water website where you can also find lots of useful water saving tips.

We will continue to work with our colleagues in Cork County Council to monitor and manage supplies across the county to ensure the people in the area have a safe and reliable water supply throughout the summer and into the autumn,” added Ian.

The Irish Water customer care helpline is open 24/7 on 1800 278 278 and customers can also contact us on Twitter @IWCare with any queries. For updates, please visit the Supply and Service Updates section of the Irish Water website. 

Irish Water and Cork County Council regret any inconvenience caused to customers by this ongoing drought.

MORE WATER SAVING TIPS

At home:

  • Take a shorter shower.
  • Fix dripping taps or leaking toilets in your home. 
  • When brushing your teeth or shaving, turn off the tap and save up to 6 litres of water per minute.
  • If you need to wash your car, use a bucket and sponge instead of a hose.
  • Report any external leaks to Irish Water at 1800 278 278. No leak fixes itself and every leak gets progressively worse. The escaping water can weaken the ground or cause slippery footpaths and roads. The leaking water reduces the supply pressure for adjacent properties. What looks like a small leak at the surface can be using the equivalent to 20-30 households.        

In the garden

  • Save and reuse water collected from baths, showers, and hand basins in the garden.
  • Use a rose head watering can instead of a hose and aim for the roots.
  • Consider installing a water butt to collect rainwater – this can then be used for watering the garden during dry weather.
  • Water in the evening when it won’t evaporate.
  • Pots and containers need lots of water to prevent drying out so plant directly into the ground as much as possible.
  • Another good tip is to add a layer of plant material, like bark, to your flower bed to prevent evaporation and reduce the need for watering. 

On the Farm

  • Fix troughs – Watch out for overflowing drinking troughs as they can waste significant amounts of water. Adjust the ball valves to lower the float or replace faulty parts. 
  • Dry cleaning: Save water when cleaning the yard by using dry-cleaning techniques. Use scrapers and brushes to remove solid waste from yards and pens before hosing. You can also use a small amount of water (e.g. one bucket) to pre-soak waste before cleaning. 
  • Clean plate cooler water: If you own a dairy farm, you can divert clean plate cooler water to a tank and use it for parlour washing.
  • Consider Rainwater Harvesting - rain from the roofs of farm buildings can be used for a variety of activities such as washing down yards. Consider the level of rainwater quality required for specific water uses on the farm (e.g. plant nurseries and field irrigation) and the surfaces and contamination risks before you consider installing appropriate rain water harvesting, treatment (filtration and UV) and storage systems. 
  • Take action to protect water sources: Avoid contamination of surface waters by reducing or eliminating access to livestock by fencing off watercourses. Pollution containing animal faeces can affect the water environment, nutrients and soil. Destroyed bankside vegetation can also contribute to flooding. 
  • View our water saving tips for farmers.

Irish Water is responsible for the delivery of all public water and wastewater services in Ireland. We are committed to continuously upgrading and developing critical infrastructure to support the growth needed in housing and across our economy, while protecting the environment and safeguarding water supplies.