Parts of Offaly 'at risk' of drought as heatwave takes hold

Irish Water urging people to conserve supply

Justin Kelly


Justin Kelly


Offaly at risk of drought as heatwave takes hold

Offaly at risk of drought as heatwave takes hold

As temperatures soar across the country, parts of Offaly have been assessed as "at risk" by Irish Water’s Drought Management Group. They have been meeting regularly to assess at risk supplies that include the midlands, particularly Athlone and Mullingar, parts of Offaly, Kilkenny, parts of Donegal and the Greater Dublin Area where demand for treated water almost meets supply availability regularly.

The Dublin region is currently using around 600 million litres of water a day which is close to the maximum level of water that can treated on a daily basis.

Irish Water is responsible for supplying drinking water to over 80% of the population through almost 1,000 public water supply schemes. "We carefully monitor demand and supply across all of these supplies. We are monitoring the water supplies in Offaly and currently all supplies are operating normally."

During times of increased demand, such as during warm weather and tourist seasons, extra monitoring is put in place, on the basis of which appropriate actions can be taken. This will range from conservation appeals to application of restrictions when supplies become critical.

Current storage in the raw water reservoirs in the Greater Dublin Area, at Roundwood (Vartry) and Pollaphuca (Liffey) are reasonable and we do not see shortages at present. If the Summer and Autumn continues dry and hot, they may come under pressure later in the year, however, Irish Water warn.

"The main pressure is on treated water capacity which along with our treated water storage can meet the normal daily range of demands at present. However, in the recent dry spells, we have seen a significant increase of the order of 20-30 million litres per day which reaches and occasionally exceeds our maximum production capacity. This is not sustainable on a long term basis without some management action."

"Therefore, we are again appealing to all users, domestic and non-domestic, to support responsible use of water. This means repairing leaks promptly, avoiding unnecessary usage, such as garden hosing and generally conserving water. If this approach is adopted, we have the capacity to avoid enforced restrictions during the very dry period," Irish Water said in a statement.

"Ultimately the solution of the water supply challenges in the Great Dublin Area and the Midlands is the Water Supply Project which will bring a reliable and sustainable water supply from the Shannon. This is becoming increasingly critical given the ongoing growth in housing and employment."

"However, this is not expected to be in place until 2025 at the earliest. In the meantime, it will take a combination of some increased output (Vartry, Barrow) and successful leakage reduction to ensure that we can provide for growth while minimising risk of shortages. Extreme weather risk will always present a challenge however, until the new source delivers the headroom needed." 

Irish Water’s Top Tips for Conserving Water:

Leak free: Check that your home is leak free. Check for running overflows and fix any dripping taps, cisterns or pipes.

Don’t let the tap run: Brushing your teeth with the tap running can use up to a staggering 6 litres per minute. Brushing your teeth with the tap off will use a more modest 1 litre of water.

Shower vs. Bath: The average bath uses 80 litres of water compared to an average shower using 49 litres in seven minutes. Switch your bath to a shower for a massive water saving.

Less time: With the average shower using 7 litres of water per minute by turning your five minute shower into four minutes, you could save up to 7 litres of water per day!

Fully loaded: Always ensure your dishwasher and washing machines are fully loaded. A modern washing machine uses approximately 65 litres of water per cycle while a dishwasher uses 20 litres. By ensuring they are fully loaded, not only will you conserve water but you will also reduce your energy bills. 

Don’t flush it all away: A third of all water used in the home is flushed down the toilet. Some larger cisterns can continue to work effectively with a smaller flush. Place a displacement device into the cistern (out of the way of moving parts) to save water. 

Don’t forget to collect: Rainwater is excellent for your garden. Collect it in a water butt from your gutters but always make sure to securely cover the large container for safety.


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