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Water crisis feared as warm spell hits supply

Dubliners will be facing water restrictions in the coming months unless a "reasonable amount of rain" falls between now and the end of May.

The warning was issued by council officials this week in the wake of revelations that rainfall in March was only a third of the average for the month.

Dublin City Council said water levels are being monitored daily following an extremely dry start to 2012.

While rainfall in March only hit 34pc of the average, February was not much better at 39pc and the figure for January was 78pc.

"These are the months where we would be expecting rainfall to build up the systems," Dublin City Council's divisional engineer for water services Brian Hennelly said.

"We're watching it on a daily basis to see if there is any action to be taken. At the moment, there are no plans to impose restrictions (on water usage)," he told the Herald.

Officials at Fingal County Council's Water Services Department said the water level at the region's main water reservoir at Poulaphouca in the Dublin mountains is "lower than we'd like it".

Senior engineer Lar Spain welcomed the recent rainfall over the Easter weekend and said there was certainly "not a crisis" at this stage.

Mr Spain admitted there may be restrictions unless a "reasonable amount of rain" falls in the next seven weeks.

He was responding to a question from Labour's Tom Kelleher.

A notice on the city council website stated restrictions may be unavoidable should the reduced rainfall continue and should demand for water increase.

Because of close cooperation between the council and the ESB -- which operates the vital Poulaphouca Reservoir -- storage amounts of raw water are actually greater than this time last year.



Conserve

"We have been very careful this year to monitor the levels. We're about half a metre higher in Poulaphouca, which is our biggest reservoir, than we were this time last year," Mr Hennelly said.

The supplies started from a lower base last year, he explained.

Mr Hennelly said April could still provide all the rain that is needed so it has not been necessary to issue any notice to the public yet, other than the general message to conserve as much water as possible.

hnews@herald.ie


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