Thursday 21 November 2019

Water shortage blamed on leaking pipes crisis

Supply cannot meet household demands as councillor slams creaking system

Stock picture
Stock picture
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

The country's creaking water system is leaking thousands of litres every day in regions currently facing usage restrictions as reservoirs run perilously low.

Families in Donegal, Carlow and Galway have been told to limit their water usage this summer, while residents in Louth and Meath were without a regular water supply for more than a week because of a damaged water pipe.

Supplies in the north east were returning to normal yesterday after a complex repair on a uniquely high-pressured water main at Staleen Water Treatment Plant. Temporary water stations were being stood down in places where taps were flowing normally.

However, night-time pressure reductions have been enforced in Carlow town and surrounding areas. A reduced flow there each night between midnight and 6am is likely to remain in place until August 4.

Residents living in an area stretching 18km along Donegal's coast between Quigley's Point and Greencastle have been told to conserve as much water as possible and report leaks.

It comes as concerns grow about water supplies to homes and businesses in the region as reservoir levels become increasingly low because of unusually dry weather.

Local representatives have been told supplies in Lough Fad cannot meet the demand for the two million litres of water delivered to the region every day, an average of more than 600 litres per customer. Locals say this is indicative of the volume of water being wasted and leaking out of the country's aging water infrastructure. Recent studies show a household uses 250 litres on average per day.

Labour councillor Martin Fadden said if the leaks were fixed there would be no need to conserve water. Now locals are concerned further restrictions will be put in place that will see pressure reduced at night-time.

"Irish Water said they have been in contact with Northern Ireland's water company and put things in place to try and make sure that they could get water if it was needed," said Mr Fadden.

"The only thing I am concerned about is that we will get notification to say that we will get cut off or a reduced supply for a couple of hours. They said that could happen but it hasn't happened yet."

Irish Water originally issued the conservation notice to customers in the area in May but reiterated its request to residents this weekend and asked people living on two separate pipelines to minimise the amount of water they use. Residents in Milford, Kerrykeel, Rathmullan, and Ramelton, served by Lough Colm, have also been asked to conserve as much water as possible.

Irish Water said it plans to spend €9m on different projects and drought prevention measures in the county. It has also made changes so customers affected in Milford will receive water from another supply.

"In the short term, in the Milford area €750,000 is being spent by Irish Water on pipeline extensions while, in the long term, €1.2m is being invested in pipeline extensions from Milford to Letterkenny," said a spokesperson.

"A further €750,000 is also being spent on extending the supply from Cranford to Milford.

"A long-term project in this area will see an interconnector laid between Illies and East Inishowen which is being progressed at a cost to the utility of €5.8m. This is combined with a further €500,000 spend on water rehabilitation pipe line replacement works."

Long-suffering residents on the Aran Islands face water usage restrictions every summer and have been battling with local authorities or Irish Water for the past 20 years to see the issue addressed.

They hope tanks will be installed and filled on Inisheer before next spring to alleviate water shortages there.

Sunday Independent

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