Friday 19 October 2018

Rain on the way - but nowhere near enough to ease water crisis

Stock picture
Stock picture
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Rain is forecast to fall across most parts of the country today, but nowhere near enough to alleviate drought conditions across the State.

Met Éireann says between 10-15mm of rain is expected to fall across Ulster, Connaught and north Leinster, with just 2-7mm in all other places.

And while the coming days may see occasional scattered showers, in general it will remain dry. "There's no signal at the moment for substantial amounts of rain," forecaster Matthew Martin said.

Tomorrow is expected to start off misty, but will be largely dry with good sunny spells and no rain forecast.

"Sunday will be increasingly warm and humid with lots of cloud about," he added. "There will be some drizzle in the north and northwest, and it will be mostly cloudy but with some sunny breaks which will be very warm, up to 25C or 26C."

Monday will be similar to Sunday, but there is a risk of some rain developing in the west and the north from the evening. On Tuesday there will be a "small amount" of rain, but not enough to restore water levels in rivers and lakes to help address the water crisis.

"Any rain that does fall will be taken up by the vegetation," he added.

Night-time water restrictions remain in force across Dublin and large parts of Wicklow.

The latest figures from Irish Water show that demand yesterday stood at almost 555 million litres. This has consistently fallen since June 29, when it stood at 604 million litres. Across the country, restrictions are in place across nine counties covering 31 drinking water schemes.

Irish Water says the unprecedented weather conditions have put "significant strain" on its drinking water supplies, but also on its ability to return treated wastewater safely to the environment.

"When wastewater enters a river or lake it is diluted. Now with lower levels in the lakes and rivers that dilution is not happening to the same degree." It is removing wastewater from plants in Westmeath, Cork, Limerick and Louth and treating it elsewhere because local rivers and lakes are not equipped to handle the load.

It also said the sewer network was under pressure because some materials, including nappies, sanitary products and wetwipes which should not be flushed down the toilet, were not being flushed through sewers to treatment plants because there is less water in the system.

"Blockages caused by these items is called ragging. During normal weather conditions, ragging is minimised by high flows and at the plant by being carefully and expensively removed for landfill.

"However, as there is not enough water in the sewers to push through the ragging, there is a significant backlog that could either all arrive at plants at once if there is heavy enough rain or continue to stagnate in the sewer network," it added.

The utility was working with councils to address the problem.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News