26 May 2022

Irish Water appeal for water conservation as dry spell increases pressure on water supplies

Irish Water is appealing to the public to conserve water as a prolonged dry spell has been predicted by Met Éireann. In several areas around the country where water supplies were already under pressure, warm weather has exacerbated this situation.

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. This year has seen extended dry spells and Met Éireann has compared this to 1976 when drought conditions were experienced across the country.

Irish Water’s Drought Management Team are monitoring water supplies and demand around the country on a daily basis.

Already some areas in Athlone, Kilkenny and north Dublin have experienced outages and restrictions and areas in Donegal and Mullingar have been identified as being at risk.

In the Greater Dublin Area, where Irish Water can sustainably produce 610 mega litres of water per day, demand has risen to concerning levels. In the summer of 2017, an average of 565 mega litres of water per day was used. However, last Friday in the Greater Dublin Area 602 mega litres of water was used which is very close to the limit of sustainable production.

Commenting on the ongoing situation, Irish Water’s Corporate Affairs Manager, Kate Gannon said, "If demand does not decrease we will start to see homes and businesses on the edge of the network in the Greater Dublin Area experience shortages, as happened in Skerries in recent weeks. The longer this continues, the more people will be at risk of shortages and outages.”

"Irish Water’s Leakage Reduction Programme has teams are on the ground now but we also need the public’s support to reduce their water usage. The top three measure that people can take are not using a hose to water the garden or wash cars; keeping paddling pools very shallow if they are being used; and taking short showers rather than baths.”

"Our Drought Management Team are monitoring the situation daily across the country but if everyone can take these simple steps, it will help us to manage supply and demand. This is a very serious situation and we are seeking the public’s help. Every effort the public make to conserve water will benefit them and their community."

Water conservation on farms - Recycle and conserve clean, unused water & Divert to ditch or watercourse

•Carry out visual checks along your private pipework on the farm to detect leaks regularly.
•Inspect the ground above your pipes for visible signs of leaks such as unusually damp ground, lusher than expected vegetation (sign of recent leak) or reduced community / rush vegetation (consequence of a long-term leak).
•Regularly check all water meters (including remote ones) to identify possible leaks. You can carry out ‘night flow’ tests by taking readings over a set period of time when water usage should be low, and all water using appliances have been switched off. If the night usage is unusually high or the counter is still running when everything is turned off, you may have a leak. To keep track of usage and potential leaks, you can complete these flow tests on a regular basis.
•If you suspect you may have a leak on your pipework, you can shut off sections of your network to assess the change in flow. Wet drains after a period without rain can indicate blockages or water from a leak may be flowing into them.
•Overflowing drinking troughs and incorrectly set or damaged ball-valves can waste significant amounts of water. Adjust the ball valves to lower the float or replace faulty parts. Drain troughs when they are not being used during the winter to avoid frost damage. You can cover the unused trough or turn upside down for frost protection.
•Remember to fix dripping taps and hosepipes around the farm promptly by replacing washers and fix overflows to avoid water wastage.
•Do not leave taps and hosepipes unattended when running or fit automatic shut-off valves.
•The higher the water pressure, the more water is wasted when a leak develops. Where possible, use control valves at strategic points across your water network.
•You can use dry-cleaning techniques, such as 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.
•On dairy farms, clean plate cooling water can be diverted to a tank and used for
parlour washing.
•Rainwater harvested from roofs of farm buildings can be used for a variety of activities, e.g.
washing down yards. Consider the level of rain water 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.
•Water your crops efficiently by irrigating at the right time of day to meet crops needs and reduce losses through evaporation; use the correct pump/pipe size, do not irrigate when it is windy and consider irrigating at night to reduce evaporation losses further.

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