HOUSEHOLDERS face the prospect of bans on washing cars and using water on their gardens after the first local authority in the country used new powers to ban the use of hosepipes.
Yesterday, Kildare Co Council invoked the hosepipe ban, which will last until February 11. Householders who break the new law face fines of up to €5,000 if caught in the act.
It is the first time that new powers in the 2007 Water Services Act have been invoked.
Other local authorities said yesterday they were likely to follow Kildare's lead. Galway Co Council is to begin ordering property owners to fix ruptured water pipes or face being taken to court.
In Kildare, a fine of €125 can be levied on those who breach the ban. If the householder is taken to court, fines of up to €5,000 can be imposed.
The ban forbids farmers from irrigating crops or homeowners from using water "drawn through a hosepipe" to water the garden or wash the car.
Kildare Co Council said it had invoked the powers because some people were keeping taps running or washing their cars while their neighbours went without drinking water.
The council is also reducing pressure across most parts of the county at night with the aim of restoring reservoirs to normal levels.
A spokesman said: "This is a short-term ban aimed at getting things back to normal."
In Galway, the county council has urged owners of holiday homes in Connemara to check their properties and said it could issue legally binding notices to force them to fix leaks.
A spokesman said a hosepipe was not under consideration at the moment as "it would be terribly effective".
However, he added: "We are considering issuing notices under the Water Conservation Regulations 2008, whereby anybody wasting water or not fixing leaks will face prosecution."
In Westmeath, where Mullingar residents will be without supply at night-time until next week, the council said it may consider hosepipe bans.
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council is also considering invoking the new powers, while South Dublin warned residents of low pressure at night.
Dublin City residents in Killester, Harold's Cross, Smithfield and parts of Dublin 4 are still without supply.
Clare is badly affected with water shut off at night-time in several towns.