Monday 24 September 2018

Water restrictions could stay in place 'for days or weeks' as more than 1.2 million without supply

People leaving taps on to avoid freezing has depleted supplies (Rui Vieira/PA)
People leaving taps on to avoid freezing has depleted supplies (Rui Vieira/PA)

Paul Melia and Independent.ie Newsdesk

More than 1.2 million people across the State – one-quarter of the population – are without water or subject to a restricted service.

Water restrictions in Greater Dublin Area will now be enforced between 8pm-6am so "people will have water at breakfast time".

The worst water crisis since the Big Freeze of 2010 forced Irish Water to restrict supply to hundreds of thousands across Dublin and parts of Meath, Kildare and Wicklow overnight, while 33,500 more are cut off in other counties.

It said the problems are likely to continue for a number of days and possibly weeks.

“Irish Water recognises that many of our water customers continue to face severe impacts from water interruption or restrictions, where customers only have water at certain times,” it said.

“These are likely to continue for a number of days,” adding it could be longer in Dublin.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Head of Customer Operations with Irish Water, Eamon Gallen, apologised for the restrictions and confirmed they could be in place "for weeks".

"They could remain in place for days or weeks so businesses can run during the day," said Mr Gallen. "We will also be prioritising hospitals and water levels are being monitored on an hourly basis.

"We don't want to be issuing restrictions and the decision is not taken lightly but we need to let reservoirs refill."

Responding to some who had no water in the Dublin region overnight, Mr Gallen apologised and said: "People at the end of the network will be hit harder, geography does catch some people."

Among the worst-affected counties with no supply is Wexford, where 17,500 are hit.

The trunk mains serving Wexford town was damaged by a falling tree and repairs crews had to wade through more than three feet of snow into a wooded area to make repairs.

There are also major problems in Gorey, where 20 tankers have been sent to provide some supply.

Another 2,000 customers in Cork, 12,250 in Tipperary and 2,000 in Limerick have no water.

Those on restricted supply number another 48,000 across Cork, Galway, Kerry, Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Mayo, Meath, Waterford and Westmeath.

In addition, almost 3,000 people are on storm-related boil water notices.

Most are in Aughrim in Co Wicklow and the remainder are on small schemes across Waterford.

Irish Water said that other areas, particularly smaller drinking water schemes, may experience some lower pressure due to high demand, adding it was important that people conserved water where possible.

Increasing demand as businesses resumed operations yesterday, coupled with weather-related bursts and leaks, had resulted in water treatment plants running at capacity and was likely to lead to even more outages and restrictions over the coming week.

In the Greater Dublin Area, demand increased by 10pc over the weekend.

“Despite having our plants working at peak output, storage of water in the reservoirs was significantly 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, prompting the imposition of a 12-hour restriction across the Greater Dublin Area from 7pm last night.

“This is essential to allow our reservoirs to refill as repairs to bursts and leaks are underway,” it added.

Hospitals on the network will be prioritised and have water diverted to them.

It added that outages could be reported to 1850 278278 and that advice was on water.ie.

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