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Monday 19 March 2018

Water shutdown to be extended after rationing fails to hit target

Water rationing is expected to continue
Water rationing is expected to continue

Louise Hogan and Paul Melia

THE water crisis shows no signs of easing as hard-hitting restrictions saved just 20 million litres of clean water – half of the target amount.

International experts have yet to find a solution to the baffling problem surrounding the different "characteristics" of the water entering the plant at Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan insisted compensation for businesses hit by the water crisis would be a matter for Dublin City Council (DCC), as restaurants and pubs warned it was a "kick in the teeth" for their struggling trades in the city, as well as parts of Kildare and Wicklow.

It also emerged that a long-term solution is many years away as a new team of consultants has been hired and is working from "scratch" on a new source of water for the busy Dublin and eastern region.

DCC senior engineer Michael Phillips warned it may have to extend the hours of the 8pm to 7am daily restrictions if "it continues for much longer".

"We only conserved around 50pc of what we had hoped," he said after the first night of restrictions on Wednesday.

"We were hoping to conserve around 40 million litres and we conserved around 20 million."


However, Mr Phillips, who is reviewing the restrictions daily, said the city was not in danger of running out of water.

Normally the production facilities for the Dublin region deliver around 530 million litres of clean water a day.

However, the volume was reduced by 100 million litres due to the problems at Ballymore Eustace.

It is currently a decision for the city as to how to distribute the 430 million litres, with facilities such as hospitals and the fire brigade service among the top priorities.

Despite assurances that the water was safe for drinking, the council warned any water with a brown, orange or yellow tinge should not be used.

Restaurants and pubs have criticised a lack of notice over the water restrictions, with the Environment Minister stating the "communications" could have been handled better by DCC.

However, the council's executive manager said it only realised the extent of the problem on Tuesday morning.

Some restaurants and pubs revealed they were already counting the costs as they were forced to use bottled water to clean and make coffee, and had to turn away customers.

Householders and businesses in some of the suburbs were warned it could take up to two-hours for water to return.

Mr Phillips urged people to conserve water and pointed out most homes should have 24-hours storage in their attic for regular household tasks.

On the long-term solution, Mr Hogan insisted action would be taken to deliver a new water source for the busy eastern region as quickly as possible.


Mr Hogan expects a proposed planned reservoir on Bord na Mona boglands at Garryhinch, Co Laois, to collect water from the Shannon River to still meet its seven-year deadline.

Yet, DCC pointed out a 'realistic' timeframe means it is at least eight to 10 years from completion – without even factoring in any legal challenges or major problems.

Problems with the security of the Dublin water supply were first highlighted almost two decades ago – with the Garryhinch site pinpointed as the favoured solution in 2011.

And, Adrian Conway, executive manager with DCC, confirmed work was under way on a new secure source with a new consortium of planning consultants Jacobs/Tobins appointed in September. But he revealed they would be "looking at it from scratch".

He pointed out this means they may not decide in favour of pursuing the mammoth project at the Garryhinch site.

The water crisis has arisen despite a €100m upgrade to the Ballymore Eustace treatment plant. Dublin City Council confirmed that the upgrade had just been completed at the plant built in the 1920s.

Irish Independent

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