Detailed analysis of drinking water sources has been considered

The Irish Water Board met today to assess the need to extend the Water Conservation Orders that will expire on Friday, 31 August in a bid to safeguard water supply for homes and businesses across the country.

The Board considered detailed analysis of drinking water sources (river flows and lake levels) from engineering experts within Irish Water and the local authorities, including the hydrologist records of OPW and the ESB and future weather forecasts. The Board determined that the Water Conservation Order will remain in place for the Greater Dublin Area which includes Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare and in counties Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Laois, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny until Sunday, 30 September 2018. 

How is Irish Water managing resources in these Counties? 

We are continuing to manage scarce resources in these areas with the local authorities and specialist contractors doing everything practical to reduce leaks, manage demands and maintain continuity of supply. Emergency work on upgrading borehole pumping plants, introducing new boreholes in some areas and deploying temporary weirs at critical river intakes are helping to maximise water available in these southern counties.

Conservation Order has been lifted for the north west region

The Water Conservation Order has been lifted for the north west region which includes Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Donegal, Longford, Cavan and Monaghan. In the midlands and south east, supplies are now generally functioning normally with full service levels available. However, borehole and river levels remain historically low and we must provide for potentially dry weather during September. We are therefore appealing to all customers to continue to conserve water in these areas as the supplies remain lower than normal.

The Water Conservation Order prohibits use of water drawn through a hosepipe or similar for the purpose of

  • watering a garden
  • cleaning a private motor-vehicle using a hosepipe
  • cleaning a private leisure boat using a hosepipe
  • filling or maintaining a domestic swimming or paddling pool (except when using hand held containers filled directly from a tap)
  • filling or maintaining a domestic pond (excluding fish ponds) using a hosepipe
  • filling or maintaining an ornamental fountain (with the exception of such use for commercial purposes)
  • use of water for filling or replenishing an artificial pond (excluding fish ponds), lake or similar application

North and West 

The first four weeks of August has seen some periods of rainfall nationally. In the north and west of the country, this has resulted in increased flows in rivers, some recovery in lake levels, which have been confirmed by the OPW and ESB monitoring data. In these areas, in particular, we have been able to scale back the emergency measures put in place during July, with the majority of water supplies working normally.

Supplies remain very critical in the south

In the south, the water supply remains very critical, especially in counties Cork, Limerick and parts of Kerry. Hydrological reports show water levels to be stable or falling, despite recent rainfall. We are continuing with emergency measures and very close monitoring and contingency planning. To support the supplies to Cork City and Harbour areas, we have put in place emergency pumping at Inniscarra to meet the water supplies of the city and the region. In Limerick the latest hydrometric data shows that the river Deel levels were lower than normal at the end of July so tankering and/or restrictions are required on supplies serving Oola, Pallasgreen, Doon, Hospital, Kilfinnane and Knocklong. In Kerry the Lough Guitane source supplying the central region remains critically low to date.

Greater Dublin Area

In the Greater Dublin Area, water supplies are being maintained with minimum service disruption. Water conservation by householders and businesses, continued work on leakage management and night-time pressure management has managed to contain overall regional daily usage to around 550 million litres. However, sources remain low and storage in the Pollaphouca Reservoir continues to drop though at a slower rate in August than in July. While demand has been below last year’s level in recent weeks, we expect that demand will be higher over the coming months with the return of schools and colleges.

Based on the current storage levels in Pollaphuca and Vartry, there is now a reasonable prospect that we will be able to meet the region’s needs through Autumn with a continued conservation effort. However, in the event of an unusually dry September/October, the levels would reduce to minimum reserve levels, below which some further restrictions would arise. At this stage, levels will be at historic low levels going into the winter, we will be anxiously watching the lake recovery to ensure that we enter 2019 with a full reserve. Given the critical reliance of over 1.6 million people and the region’s businesses on these resources, we believe that the urgent focus on water conservation will be needed through the coming months.

The 2018 drought conditions have demonstrated the vulnerability of many of our water supplies, notably in the south, east and midlands...we are hopeful that everyone will continue to conserve water.

Eamon Gallen, General Manager

Commenting on the extension of the Water Conservation Order, General Manager, Eamon Gallen said “The 2018 drought conditions have demonstrated the vulnerability of many of our water supplies, notably in the south, east and midlands. Irish Water engineers and hydrological experts are working with experts from the EPA, OPW, ESB, local authorities and other agencies to monitor river flows and lake levels. We continue to liaise with Inland Fisheries Ireland regarding impacts of abstractions from rivers and lakes and wastewater discharges on fish life. This information will be invaluable to the ongoing work of developing the medium and long term water supply strategies for the country. In the coming weeks, Irish Water will publish for public consultation, its draft methodology for assessment of sustainable abstractions as a key input to the National Water Resources Plan which will be finalised in the coming months. A key element in the strategy is the provision of much greater resilience in our supplies and minimising the impact of severe weather extremes with climate change or sudden failures in sources or infrastructure. In the meantime, Irish Water’s immediate focus is on safeguarding water supplies by maximising water conservation and fixing leaks.”

“At this stage, the majority of local authorities are working with leakage contractors to deliver substantial savings. Major savings achieved in recent months include in Tralee, Athlone, Cork County, Galway City, Laois and Kilkenny, where schemes under severe pressure due to the drought are now coping satisfactorily due to the water saved. Across Dublin, the existing crews performed very well to substantially reverse the leakage impact of Storm Emma and mobilisation for an intensified leakage program has now commenced. Over the coming months, the scale of work on ‘Find & Fix’ in the network, ‘First Fix Free’ activity with households, supported by prioritised pipe replacement focused on high burst frequency and impact pipes, will be increasingly evident to the public.”

“While the Water Conservation Orders have been lifted for some areas of the country, we are hopeful that everyone will continue to conserve water. This prolonged drought has brought an increased awareness of the value of having an adequate continuous water service for homes and businesses around the country, with evident response in increased water conservation and this must be continued as we all work together to protect and safeguard our water resources for our future needs.”

Please continue to conserve water

Making small changes can make a big difference to saving water at home and at work. Visit our Conserve Water at Home for tips on how to conserve water at home and Water Conservation for Business for tips on how to conserve water at work.

Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow

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