Offaly water supply 'at risk' as heatwave continues
Irish Water has said that water supplies in parts of Offaly have been identifed as 'at risk' by the body's Drough Management Team.
Irish Water, working with the local authorities, is advising of additional measures to protect Dublin’s water supplies as the water usage has increased again in the last 24 hours, while other areas around the country are being put on alert.
Irish Water’s Drought Management Team is meeting daily and is monitoring water supplies and demand around the country.
In the Greater Dublin Area, Irish Water can sustainably and safely produce 610 million litres of water per day. In the past 24 hours demand reached 615 megalitres. This level of demand meant drawing from treated water storage to maintain full supply. This option can only be maintained for a limited period of a few weeks. This record level of summer consumption is also depleting raw water reserves needed for the coming months.
Irish Water’s priority is to minimise the impact on homes and businesses, particularly during this period of holidays and high tourism. Irish Water, working with the local authorities, has lowered night time water pressure levels in the Greater Dublin Area to the minimum level that will not impact businesses but will assist Irish Water managing demand more effectively. Irish Water is monitoring reports of private side leaks and other non-essential uses and is reviewing its enforcement options. We will update on these in the coming days.
Irish Water remain very concerned about the possibility of having to impose restrictions in the long term. This will become unavoidable if the dry conditions persist into the Autumn with lower than normal rainfalls.
Demand for water is increasing while levels in rivers and lakes are dropping significantly which means that is there is less water available to treat and supply to homes and businesses.
Nationally, Irish Water have today identified 100 water supply schemes around the country that are now at risk.
Customers in Kilkenny, Longford, Athlone, North Galway, Louth and Kerry have already experienced restricted water supply and outages in some cases. Currently almost 4,000 customers are impacted.
Some areas in Cork, Wicklow, Limerick, Kilkenny, Carlow, Tipperary, Clare, Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Galway, Roscommon, Laois, Limerick, Kerry, Waterford and Offaly have been identified as being at risk.
Commenting on the ongoing situation, Irish Water’s Corporate Affairs Manager, Kate Gannon said
“We are very grateful to the public and to businesses for all efforts to conserve water. Every small measure has a positive impact. We were very encouraged for example to see Dublin Bus commit to only washing their fleet every three days instead of every day. Several other businesses who are large water users have confirmed to us that are implementing water conservation measures and we are very thankful to them for their contribution.”
“Where restrictions are necessary we are endeavouring to do them at times that will have the minimal impact on homes and businesses. Irish Water have been liaising with farming representative groups to provide what practical support we can. Lowering the water pressure in Dublin is designed to save water without causing disruption to customers.”
“We have a long way to go. If the drought is prolonged, water restrictions would become unavoidable if demand does not continue to drop. Irish Water are appealing to the public to be continue to be mindful of their water usage. Every effort someone makes in their home or business impacts their neighbour and community. Irish Water have lots of tips for conserving water in the home, garden and business on water.ie.”
“Irish Water are also currently assessing all legal options open to us and how they could be implemented. Our first priority is to work with customers and support them as they conserve water but we will have to use legal measures if necessary.”
“The situation remains critical and we are continuing to seek the public’s help. Every effort the public make to conserve water will help to minimise risk of supply loss to them and their community.”
Meanwhile, the National Federation of Group Water Schemes have called on the urgent need for water conservation. "As the exceptionally high water demand currently being experienced has potential implications for human health, the NFGWS is urging group water scheme members to use water wisely and to avoid all unnecessary use," a statement read.
"With emerging evidence of sources being under stress in the GWS sector, there is a very real danger that the situation will deteriorate in the coming days as high temperatures and lack of rainfall will inevitably put pressure on lake reservoirs and on spring sources in particular."
"Apart from having less water available, the increase of at least 50/% in water demand currently being experienced in the sector is putting pressure on treatment systems also. These systems have a design capacity and where this is exceeded treatment systems (and especially filtration) cannot operate as effectively. This increases the risk of contaminants entering the drinking water supply."
"While universal metering on most schemes has meant that plants operate well within their design capacity under most circumstances, the current level of demand is putting plants under severe pressure. This problem of soaring demand is compounded by the fact that the algal blooms that arise on many of our lake sources are already putting pressure
on filtration systems at this time of year," the group continued.
"For spring supplies, as the aquifer is depleted, raw water quality deteriorates and this too puts pressure on treatment plants. Any unnecessary usage that speeds up the depletion of these groundwater sources should, therefore, be avoided."
"For the above reasons, the NFGWS is calling on GWS members to think carefully about how they are using water, to check for leaks on their properties and to refrain from any and all unnecessary use."
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