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No relief to water crisis as reservoirs fail to fill

THE water crisis will continue into next week as engineers warned last night that 10 water mains were still bursting every day in Dublin.

Ruptured mains are running at five times the average. Homeowners and businesses across the State can expect restrictions into next week because reservoirs are not being replenished as quickly as had been hoped.

The warning came after Met Eireann warned that temperatures would plummet from tomorrow as another cold-weather front grips the country.

This will result in more freezing ground temperatures, which can buckle pipes and cause them to rupture.

The situation is particularly bad in Dublin, but a combination of restrictions, cut-offs and low pressure are in force across many counties.

Among those affected are Carlow, Clare, Laois, Donegal, Cork, Galway, Kildare, Kilkenny, Waterford and Wicklow -- but all local authorities are urging people to conserve water.

Engineers are worried that ongoing leaks are preventing reservoirs from being resupplied to normal levels. If usage doesn't decrease, overnight restrictions may have to remain in place for some time.

Three reservoirs in Cork are now at record lows for January. Among these is Inniscarra, which supports the ESB's hydroelectric dam and is far below normal water levels.

While normal water supplies were largely restored throughout Cork city yesterday, isolated restrictions will remain in order to facilitate pipeline repairs by council crews.

In Mallow, Charleville and parts of west Cork, reservoirs remain at critical levels and residents have been warned that overnight restrictions will have to remain in place.

Hundreds of homeowners in Limerick are without water as council staff struggle to fix leaks, while tankers and standpipes are in use throughout Clare.

Towns cut off last night in Clare include Shannon, Sixmilebridge, Ardnacrusha and Corofin.

Laois has imposed a ban on car washes. Portlaoise, Mountmellick and Portarlington are all badly affected by shortages.

Dublin City Council said yesterday that restrictions and cut-offs would remain in place until at least next Tuesday because of ongoing shortages across the capital.

Senior engineer Brian Smyth said that while the number of tankers being deployed had fallen, council staff were working flat out to repair mains.


"We're doing an average of 10 mains a day," he said. "In an average day, there'd (normally) be about two."

Demand for water spiralled on Tuesday as businesses returned to work. On Monday, demand ran at 516 million litres (megalitres), rising to 538 million the following day.

This meant that just 4.5 million litres were saved in reservoirs.

"We have 618 million litres in the Stillorgan reservoir," said Mr Smyth. "If we get another 100 million into Stillorgan, we'll be happy and this will enable us to ease restrictions."

He added: "We can't give a day when this will be sorted. The situation changes daily."

Among the worst-affected areas in Dublin are Crumlin, Finglas and Beaumont.

The council hopes that there will only be pressure reductions by next week -- instead of outright cut-offs -- to help replenish reservoirs.

Meanwhile the Construction Industry Federation has called on the State to replace 5pc of all water mains every year in order to help reduce leakage from an average of 40pc across the network to just 15pc.

Irish Independent