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Tuesday 22 May 2018

Water restrictions may continue 'for months'

Irish Rail contractors repair the track at Inch, Co Wexford, which has closed due to subsidence. Photo: Garry O’Neill
Irish Rail contractors repair the track at Inch, Co Wexford, which has closed due to subsidence. Photo: Garry O’Neill
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Shutting off running taps and fixing broken pipes in businesses has helped to significantly reduce water demand across the Greater Dublin Area.

But Irish Water said restrictions will continue to be imposed across Dublin and Meath to help restore reservoirs over the coming weeks, and that it will take "months" to replace leaking pipes damaged during Storm Emma.

The National Emergency Co-ordination Group (NECG) has been stood down and, for the first time in a week, Met Éireann does not have a weather warning in place.

But it predicts rain to arrive tomorrow, which, coupled with melting snow, could lead to localised flooding. The OPW said "quick increases" in river levels were possible over the next few days due to the forecast for rain and melting snow.

Despite the thaw, conditions remain "very difficult" in north Kildare, Wicklow, Wexford, Waterford and south Dublin, and the public is advised to be extremely careful while driving.

Health services remain disrupted in some areas, with all outpatient departments now open, including in Wexford, where they were closed earlier in the week due to the snow.

A "small number" of hospitals have suspended day cases, with only urgent inpatient elective procedures, including cancer cases, going ahead.

The HSE is still completing home-help calls in Wicklow, Kildare and Wexford.

The vast bulk of public transport is operating, but Irish Rail services will be suspended between Gorey and Arklow until at least next week following a landslide at Arklow.

Local authorities and State agencies have been asked to quantify estimates for loss and damage caused, with the bill to be met by central Government.

But water remains the big concern.

Pressure will continue to be reduced across large parts of the capital, and some 16,000 people outside Dublin had no supply yesterday, compared with 23,000 the day before, with 37,000 on a restricted supply, down 2,000 compared with Tuesday. Full service has been restored in Westmeath, Laois, Longford, Kildare and Donegal after local authorities completed works on the ground.

But there are "persistent problems" in some areas, including Rathmines, Rathgar and Milltown, with "significant leaks". Ballyboden and Mount Venus Road, Dublin, were also without water because they are on high ground, and there are also issues with some apartment blocks.

Pressure reductions would only be imposed "as a last resort", Irish Water added, saying if supplies did not recover it would arrange an alternative supply. Some 22 leak detection crews and 26 repair crews were on the ground.

"In comparing yesterday with the previous day, we can attribute a significant factor in the reduced demand has been shutting-off of running taps and broken pipes within premises," it added.

"The balance can be attributed to leaks which will require a sustained programme of work over weeks and months to reach pre-Storm Emma levels, which were themselves too high."

Irish Independent

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