| 9.7°C Dublin

Heavy rain fails to solve water crisis as demand increases


Localised flooding this week in Tullow, Co Carlow, following heavy downpours. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Localised flooding this week in Tullow, Co Carlow, following heavy downpours. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Localised flooding this week in Tullow, Co Carlow, following heavy downpours. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The heavy rain experienced in some parts of the country in recent days has done little to solve the problem of dwindling drinking water supplies.

Irish Water is now having to intervene in 37 places to prop up supplies with tankers and other measures.

Sixty-five other areas are on a watch list because they remain under severe pressure.

Downpours in many parts of the country were so severe at times that they caused flash floods in counties Wexford, Carlow and Roscommon.

Margaret Attridge of Irish Water said the rainfall for the most part did little to replenish the rivers, lakes and groundwater sources that drinking supplies depend on.

“The soil moisture deficit remains very high, which means this rain will run off or be absorbed by the soil and will have minimal impact on supplies,” she said.

“And with more dry weather expected over the next few weeks, it is important that everyone continues to reduce our water use where possible.

“We will continue to monitor the levels at all our supplies over the coming weeks and take any actions that may be necessary to maintain supplies, including communicating about localised issues or restrictions as they arise.”

Customers in most areas experiencing shortages have not yet felt the impact, but parts of Cork, Wexford, Limerick, Donegal, Galway and Kerry are under night-time restrictions to ensure day-time supplies can continue without interruption.

Further challenges lie ahead as Met Éireann is forecasting mixed weather for the month ahead, with irregular periods of rainfall and some very warm conditions.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

Throughout the summer, demand for water has increased every time temperatures have risen, which has added to the strain on supplies.

For this weekend and next week, the west of the country is due rain but the east will be drier than normal and temperatures are expected to be above average in most places.

The following week to the end of the month is forecast to be dry and warmer again all over the country.

For the first half of September, warmer conditions are expected to continue, but rainfall is forecast to be closer to normal, with very heavy rain possible in the middle of the month.

“Rainfall warnings may be required but confidence is low at this stage,” the forecaster said. However, it added: “Temperatures will likely be slightly above the norm.”

Forecasters in France and Spain, which have suffered record droughts this year, are looking farther ahead and predicting more difficulties as far as October.

The European Centre for Medium Range Weather Fore- casts, meanwhile, is forecasting temperatures of three degrees higher than average in northern Europe next week.

“Over the following weeks, this area of warmer-than-average temperatures moves to western Europe where it remains into September,” it said.

It said drought conditions are expected to ease over the next few weeks, but by early next month rainfall will be around average for most parts of Europe.

However, it added: “Warmer- than-average temperatures are likely to persist over much of Europe until October, with southern and northern regions experiencing warmer-than-average temperatures to the end of the year.”

Irish Water is asking all customers to continue to be conscious of the pressure on supplies and try to conserve as much water as possible.

It has developed a calculator to help people learn how much water they use. It is at www.water.ie/calculator and includes water saving tips.

Most Watched