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Hosepipe ban under review as rain eases pressure on water supply

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Dramatic changes in the weather over the past fortnight mean the ban could now be cut short. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Dramatic changes in the weather over the past fortnight mean the ban could now be cut short. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Dramatic changes in the weather over the past fortnight mean the ban could now be cut short. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

The hosepipe ban could be lifted within days after recent heavy rainfall eased pressure on water supplies.

Irish Water will review the ban early next week and may lift it in full or at least in parts of the country, although it warned that the recovery of water levels was "fragile".

All non-essential use of water has been banned under a water conservation order since early June after months of almost zero rainfall, and the order was to run until July 21.

Dramatic changes in the weather over the past fortnight mean the ban could now be cut short.

Despite the turnaround, water levels remain very low in some rivers and lakes that are the sources of public water supplies, with 22 still classified as being in drought and 63 at risk of drought.

A meeting is scheduled between Irish Water, Met Éireann, the Office of Public Works, the Environmental Protection Agency and other bodies to discuss the next move. Irish Water managing director Niall Gleeson said the situation was "evolving".

"While some areas of the country have had significant rainfall, it has not been equally distributed in all of the areas that are most in need," he said.

"It is encouraging to see the improvement in so many of the water sources, but this recovery is fragile.

"That's why input from Met Éireann on the forecast and the OPW and EPA who monitor the levels of lakes and rivers is so important."

Met Éireann is forecasting further rain this weekend in many parts, followed by a week of mixed weather with some areas getting showers and others heavy downfalls.

The wet and cool conditions may not be welcomed by 'staycationers' and children on their school holidays, but they do have the dual effect of replenishing supplies while also dampening down demand for watering gardens and filling outdoor paddling pools.

Irish Water warned there is still a way to go before declaring an end to what was shaping up to be the most severe water crisis on record.

The hosepipe ban followed the driest May since 1850 and one of the driest springs on record for the country, while the Greater Dublin Area had its driest spring ever.

An assessment carried out on the country's main water sources in May found that 86pc of rivers and 75pc of lakes had levels below normal for the time of year, along with 60pc of groundwater sites.

In the case of rivers, 33pc were classified as running "particularly low", as were 40pc of lakes.

Mr Gleeson praised the response of the public and businesses to the hosepipe ban and the appeals for water conservation, but he said the message was still relevant.

"It is still essential that members of the public continue to conserve water and form good household habits at this time. Any non-essential use of water should be discouraged, whether we are in a drought or not," he urged.

Irish Independent