Local councils battling to restore supplies
Published 14/01/2010 | 05:00
THOUSANDS of homes across the country were left without drinking water yesterday as councils battled to restore supplies.
Increased demand caused by mains pipes bursting and people leaving their taps running forced some county councils to cut supplies last night to allow reservoirs return to normal levels.
Hundreds of towns and villages coped with reduced water pressures as local authorities moved to protect supplies.
Clare County Council, which cut off supply to Shannon town last night, said that as the thaw continues more burst pipes are likely to emerge.
There was widespread disruption in the capital, with large parts of the city including Dublin 15, Killester, Finglas, Cabra, Rathgar, Rathmines and Terenure left without supply.
Reservoirs were closed across much of Co Donegal while in Limerick city the council said it believed the number of people leaving their taps running was increasing despite pleas to conserve water.
"People are leaving their taps run, which is causing difficulties for their neighbours as it's dragging down the pressure," a spokesman said.
"We have capability at the production facility, there's no problems with that, but it's the consumption rates. I think it's (people leaving taps on) increased because people have been told to turn off their taps."
Environment Minister John Gormley, speaking after the National Emergency Response Co-ordination Committee (NERCC) met yesterday, said that local authorities would continue fixing pipes up to the weekend and stressed the need to conserve water.
"I cannot over-stress the call for conservation," he said. "The county councils are working flat out. They have relieved pressure but the difficulty now is detecting leaks. Half of the extra demand is caused by people leaving their taps running. Demand is now at 554 million litres, which is 80 million litres lower than the record of 634 million litres over the weekend but still high.
"We've low pressure and we expect that work on repairing the pipes to continue apace."
Mr Gormley said the Government had spent almost €1bn in 2008 and 2009 on water services, with €508m allocated for 2010. The leakage rate had been reduced in Dublin to 28pc of all treated water, a huge improvement given that much of the distribution system was over 100 years old.
Chambers Ireland said that the water crisis highlighted the need for water charging to be introduced as a matter of urgency.
"This jump in demand came as a result of some burst water pipes, but more significantly taps being left to run to prevent pipes freezing and people stocking up on water following viral SMS campaigns claiming that water supplies were being cut off," spokesman Sean Murphy said.
"This simply would not happen if people were paying for these scarce resources."
Labour's Mary Upton said that car washes in petrol stations should not be allowed operate, given they used up to 150 litres per wash.