Tuesday 25 September 2018

Water pressure to be reduced in the greater Dublin area and surrounding counties from 7pm tonight

Irish Water had urged the public not to run taps
Irish Water had urged the public not to run taps

Kevin Doyle and Paul Melia

IRISH Water will reduce pressure in Dublin, parts of Wicklow, Kildare and Meath from 7pm tonight to allow reservoirs refill.

As the recovery operation in the wake of Storm Emma continues, the water supply is proving to be the major concern for the National Emergency Coordination Group.

Irish Water said that demand rose by 10pc over the weekend, and despite plants working a peak output, storage was “severely depleted”.

“Demand is continuing to rise and our reservoir levels continue to drop. There is not enough water in our reservoirs to meet the current levels of demand,” it said.

“As a result, Irish Water will reduce water pressure in Dublin, parts of Wicklow, Kildare and Meath from 7pm tonight to 7am Tuesday when supply will begin to return to normal levels. This is essential to allow our reservoirs to refill as repairs to bursts and leaks are underway.”

It said hospitals would be prioritised and would have water diverted to them, adding it needed to reduce water pressure to minimise the impact on homes, and in a bid to avoid “widespread outages”.

“Homes will have storage in their attic tanks and businesses should also have storage on site.  On high ground and on the extremities of the network, people may experience some outages,” it added.

“Irish Water, working with the four Dublin local authorities, is reviewing the situation on an hourly basis. Vulnerable customers are being contacted to provide advice and support.”

Three bursts in the North Docklands, Infirmary Road and Skerries were repaired over the weekend, saving the equivalent of the daily water usage of Balbriggan which has a population of around 25,000.

Irish Water is appealing to homeowners and businesses to conserve water at this time. Advice on how to do so is available on water.ie. Any visible leaks should be reported to Irish Water on 1850 278 278.

The announcement comes as 7,500 people remain without a water supply as Irish Water and local authorities battle to repair hundreds of leaks across the network.

Trees had to be cut down in woodland in Wexford to repair a mains burst, with crews also forced to trek through three feet of snow to access pipes.

Despite the progress made to date, some 94,000 are also on a restricted service, down from 121,000 last night. These are in Cork, Galway, Kerry, Laois, Westmeath, Longford and Mayo.

Efforts are also continuing to clear roads in Wexford and Wicklow where some communities remain cut off.

Resources from other parts of the country are being diverted to the region as they become available.

A flood alert remains in place for many urban centres and the public are being asked to stay away from coastal areas along the east of the country at high tide.

Just 40 homes are waiting to be reconnected to the electricity network.

“Much of the country is now back up and running,” said Sean Hogan, the chair of NECG.

But he added that the health service is facing a “myriad of problems” and some schools have yet to reopen.

Irish Water boss Jerry Grant has this afternoon warned that the crisis facing his staff “will continue for quite some time”.

“There will be significant numbers with water restrictions for the coming days and indeed weeks,” he said.

Already households in parts of Westmeath, Meath, Kerry, Longford and Galway are experiencing interruptions in their supply.

And more than 1 million customers in the Greater Dublin Area will start to notice a reduction in water pressure from tonight.

Mr Grant said the restrictions would be as broad as possible and will apply between 7pm and 7am.

Water usage increased by 20 million litres in the past 24 hours. This is due to the combination of people returning to normal activities and leaks in the system.

Mr Grant urged people to prioritise water conservation, including taking shorter showers and not leaving taps running.

The health service is going to take at least two weeks to return to its normal routine.

Patients who have appointments in the coming days are being asked to wait for a phonecall rather than contacting their hospital.

The National Ambulance Service received 1,079 call-outs in the past 24 hours amid a spike in the number of people seeking treatment for fractures.

Most public transport is back in action but motorists are still being urged to use extreme caution. In particular drivers are being warned to watch out for pedestrians who may step off the footpath in search of better underfoot conditions.

Garda have also appealed for people who were forced to abandon cars on roadsides during the storm to collect them as soon as possible.

More than 1,300 Defence Force troops are still assisting with the clean-up.

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