Money down the drain
Cost of water cuts to run into millions
THE Government last night ruled out compensation for the thousands of businesses affected by water shortages as thousands of families prepared for further heavy restrictions this weekend.
While restaurants, bars and hotels prepared for one of the busiest nights of the year, the Department of Environment said it had not considered compensation over the crisis, which has lasted three weeks.
The economic cost of the shortages will run into millions of euro, according to the small business group ISME.
"The situation is that restaurants and other commercial enterprises are charged for water on a metered basis," a spokesman for the department said.
"Therefore, they will not be charged for what they have not received. The issue of compensation has not been considered by the department."
Water supplies are expected to be restored in most locations outside Dublin over the next few days -- but thousands in the capital will be without water well into next week.
The department said that while there were still pockets in some counties -- including Wicklow, Galway and Mayo -- with only a limited piped supply or none at all, the situation was gradually improving.
Reservoirs in Dublin rose on Thursday night as supply exceeded demand. Restrictions were to be lifted from 2pm yesterday until 4pm today.
However, those restrictions will resume this evening until midday tomorrow and there will only be a six-hour respite before a further 18 hours of restrictions are imposed tomorrow evening.
Dublin City Council's chief engineer Michael Phillips said restrictions would continue to be monitored after the major return to work next Tuesday and then for the following week until the schools return on January 10.
He added that if a large number of broken water mains were found, the council might decide to put more water into storage in order to cope with possible shortages.
Gerry Galvin, the department's principal adviser on water services, said demand continued to exceed capacity on several supplies around the country. "It is important that people heed the message to conserve water as this eases the pressure on the system generally," he said.
"Progress continues to be made in resolving the supply situation around the country, with the expectation that supply will be restored in most locations outside Dublin over the next few days."
Mr Galvin said every effort was being made to resolve the situation in areas left without water, where residents were being supplied by either tankers or standpipes.
He again called on people to conserve water use and warned that even following the restoration of supply, night-time restrictions may continue to apply in order to fully replenish reservoirs.
"The ongoing co-operation of the public in conserving water is having a positive impact," he added.
At least 100,000 litres of drinking water per day are being transferred by Louth County Council to Northern Ireland Water in an attempt to help deal with huge shortages in the Newry area.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael TD Simon Coveney said the current crisis was further evidence that a new and better approach to water delivery was needed.
He said a new government led by Fine Gael would be committed to seeing beyond short-term needs to patch up a broken pipes infrastructure.
"What is now required is a significant commitment to upgrading the 25,000km of water pipeline infrastructure in Ireland and, more importantly, a new management structure to plan and take responsibility for the efficient and cost-effective delivery of water to homes and businesses nationally," Mr Coveney added.