Wednesday 23 January 2019

Rainfall bringing little relief to depleted local water reserves

Bill Browne

Recent rainfall has done little to alleviate serious water shortages across Cork County, with Irish water saying that supplies to many schemes around the region still remain dangerously depleted.

An Irish Water spokesman has said that supplies to several key schemes are still under "serious pressure", leading to speculation that the hose pipe ban currently in operation may be extended beyond the end of this month. 

"While recent rainfall has helped to replenish some surface water sources, the soil moisture deficit resulting from the historically dry summer means that it will take longer for groundwater supplies to return to sustainable levels," said the spokesman.

"For that reason, it is important that people continue their efforts to conserve water so that sources can recover and further restrictions on supply can be avoided." 

With particular reference to north Cork, levels in the Newmarket Regional Supply are still "extremely low", affecting towns and villages across Duhallow including  Newmarket, Kanturk, Tullylease, Kilbrin, Meelin and Boherbue, where night-time restrictions will remain in place for the foreseeable future. 

"Together with Cork County Council, we are working to find and fix leaks, manage existing supplies and identify and investigate alternative sources. However, as this area is served by groundwater sources which have become very depleted following the dry summer it will take some time before a normal supply can be restored," warned the spokesman.

"We are also appealing to customers served by the Charleville water supply scheme, which serves Charleville, Buttevant and Newtownshandrum to continue water conservation efforts." 

Meanwhile, historically low levels at Inniscarra lake are also impacting supplies to a number of areas across the mid-Cork region including Ballincollig, Ovens, Blarney and Tower. 

"With the help of Cork County Council we are managing supplies to ensure maximum availability of drinking water. While there is no immediate risk to these supplies, the lack of rainfall has continued into September and we are therefore asking the public to do all that they can to reduce water usage," said the spokesman.

Irish Water has yet to confirm whether the hosepipe ban will, as had been hoped, be lifted at the end of the month. However, the lack of appreciable amounts of rainfall over the past weeks and days is making it more likely that it will be retained for at least another month. 

"The Water Conservation Order will remain in pace until September 30, at which time it will be reviewed again," said the spokesman. 

"We would like to thank customers for their efforts to date to conserve water and once again remind people that despite recent rainfall, it will take some time for water sources to return to normal," he reiterated.