Water Conservation Order for West Cork no longer in place

01 October 2022

Following recent rainfall and improving surface and ground water conditions, Uisce Éireann has lifted the Water Conservation Order that was put in place in West Cork on August 30. The Water Conservation Order was issued for four weeks in a bid to safeguard water supplies for essential purposes.

When the Water Conservation Order was issued, many West Cork water supplies were critically low following a record-breaking dry spell during the summer. Nationally, 50 of Uisce Éireann’s 720 drinking water schemes were in drought.

Thankfully from a water supply perspective over the past number of weeks there has been a return to normal rainfall levels. This has resulted in the recovery of some of the water supplies that were in drought or at risk of drought. While the overall numbers are trending downwards, the situation is not uniform across the country and the recovery of some sources is very fragile. There are some rural supplies which still require ongoing support in the form of tankering directly to reservoirs to maintain levels. These include Drinagh, Roberts Cove and Coppeen in Cork. Should another dry spell develop we may need to do similar for other locations around the county. Any restrictions would be clearly communicated and all attempts are made to minimise the impact on all customers.

Niall O’Riordan of Uisce Éireann said, “It is really important that members of the public continue to exercise good household habits at this time and conserve water, regardless of rainfall. Any non-essential use of water should be avoided, whether we are in a drought or not."

We would like to thank the public in West Cork for their efforts in conserving water in their homes and gardens over the past number of weeks and remind everybody to continue to be mindful or their water use. 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 and support which helped us maintain critical water supplies.

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The implementation of this Order follows a long period of dry weather combined with a large increase in demand.

Uisce Éireann has confirmed that a Water Conservation Order, commonly referred to as a hosepipe ban, will be in place for 30 supplies in West Cork, from midnight tonight for a period of four weeks. The order applies only to these locations and not the rest of the country.

View map of the area affected

The Water Conservation Order has been issued in a bid to safeguard water supplies for essential purposes. Advertisements will appear in national papers today, August 29, in line with statutory requirements outlining the prohibition of the use of garden hoses and other non-essential uses of water.

The implementation of this Order follows a long period of dry weather combined with a large increase in demand, as a result of which water supplies in West Cork have come under severe stress.

Since November 2021 rainfall in West Cork has been below average for every month (except last June) when compared to historical rainfall records. This has impacted water resources as they need time to replenish, and it will take six to eight weeks of rainfall to do that. There was only 6.3mm of rain at the weather station in Roches Point between August 14 and 23, compared with 18.4mm in Mullingar, Co Westmeath and over 32mm in Markree Castle, Sligo. Met Éireann is forecasting a further spell of dry, warm weather for the next two weeks, which will increase the pressure on already depleted water supplies.

At the same time demand for water has increased significantly over the summer period, particularly in tourist and agricultural areas. Uisce Éireann, in partnership with Cork County Council, is currently tankering water to three supplies and there is a potential need for tankering to additional supplies in the West Cork area in the next two weeks. 

Margaret Attridge of Uisce Éireann, said: “Uisce Éireann’s top priority is to protect our water supply for use in homes, businesses and essential services. Water levels at our surface water and ground water sources in the West Cork area have reduced to historic lows. As demand continues to outstrip supply in West Cork and with further dry weather predicted, we have taken the extra step of implementing a Water Conservation Order to safeguard local water supplies.

“It is very clear from Uisce Éireann’s data that warm weather creates a surge in demand for water. Such weather makes the use of hoses more likely for gardening, leisure and other purposes. However, using a hosepipe for one hour is the equivalent of the daily water usage of an average family and this is generally a non-essential use of water.

“The introduction of this Order follows a series of measures that Uisce Éireann has put in place to safeguard supplies over the summer, including tankering water to reservoirs, night-time shut offs in some areas, pressure management and a public information campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of water conservation year-round. We will continue to analyse water consumption levels while the 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 water users on water conservation, and encouraging them to continue their efforts to avoid unnecessary use. We are also working with our partners in Cork County Council to ramp up leak detection and repair, particularly in water stressed areas.

“There are lots of helpful tips for conserving water on our website but the key messages are to leave the hose and the pressure washer in the shed; reuse household water for the garden; and take shorter showers. We are calling on everyone to play their part so we can maintain supplies into the Autumn,” Ms Attridge added.

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.

To help people learn more about saving water Uisce Éireann has developed an easy-to-use conservation calculator so they can work out how much water they are currently saving and how they can conserve even more. The calculator is available on our conservation section where you can also find lots of useful water saving tips.

Members of the public can report any leaks in the public water network by contacting Uisce Éireann 24/7 at 1800 278 278 or on water.ie