Heatwave putting services under pressure

Staff reporters

As the heatwave goes on and Kerry continues to bake in near record temperatures Irish Water have warned that a hosepipe ban is likely to be introduced in parts of the county.

While Kerry's water supplies have not been as badly hit as in other parts of the country the water utility said that supplies are at risk in a  number of areas. Night time restrictions were due to be put in place in the Caherdaniel area from 10.30pm on Tuesday night until 7am on Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile - in their latest update on the situation - Irish Water said supplies in Rathmore, Inch and Castlemaine are still at serious risk and could be subject to restrictions in the coming days. 

Supplies in Castlecove, Ballytermon, mid Kerry, Milltown Carragh Lake and Portmagee are also a cause for concern but there are not in immediate danger.      

While at present a hosepipe ban is only in place Irish Water have indicated that this is likely to be extended to many rural areas in the coming days as many smaller water schemes are expected to come under severe pressure.

Irish Water said it is currently working to identify which areas will be affected by hosepipe bans and how best to communicate the geographic details of any bans to avoid any confusion among householders in the affected areas and their neighbouring regions.

Measures have been put in place to maintain supply to the greater Killarney and Tralee areas. A limited number of customers on higher ground, north of Tralee, may be experiencing outages and as a precautionary measure temporary water tankers have been set up in the following areas: Caherslee's Mart Yard, the Ballyroe Junction at Clashaphuca, Listellick School, Kilflynn Village, Lisloose School, Cordal and Currow (in the church carparks), Farranfore (besides Ulicks bar), Firies (Church yard), and at Kilcummin (church car park).

Irish Water appealed to customers to conserve water as reservoir levels on these schemes are now at a critical stage with demand exceeding production. In the Listowel area supplies are said to be holding up well though people in the area are urged to do their bit to help conserve supplies. 

A lack of water is not the only issue arising from the heatwave. Tarmacadam on some of the county's roads turned to hot liquid in the high temperatures. Currow woman Sheila O'Sullivan said she was driving in the peak of the heat when she noticed the hot tar.

"I was driving the road from Farranfore to Currow and it was so dangerous. The tar on the road felt like slush on the wheels and steering as it when it splattered up across my windscreen," Sheila said.

She added that it was extremely nervous as oncoming cars were not slowing down. "We're not used to these high temperatures with sunshine and as a result, driving conditions can be hazardous as I have seen," she added.

Meanwhile as the county swelters in the fire service have been under increasing pressure. The 'condition red' danger warning for forest fires remains in place at Kerry County Council is reminding the public to be vigilant and fire aware during the heatwave. Kerry Fire Service dealt with a number of large gorse and forest fires over in the last week with crew working day and night to bring the fires under control.

The most serious fire broke out on Saturday when a large stretch of gorse land in the Kielduff area caught fire. Three units of the Fire Service - accompanied by an additional tanker battled the blaze for several hours.

The fire - which blanketed the Stacks Mountain area under huge cloud of smoke - eventually spread into a neighbouring Coilte owned forest where it caused serious damage. It was finally brought under control with the aid of water drops from an army helicopter that had to be specially called in to help deal with the blaze.

The unprecedented heatwave has created pressure in other areas too with beaches thronged all week. Such were the crowds at Inch beach, for example, that Kerry County Council have been forced to hire parking attendants to help manage traffic in the popular beaches overflowing car parks.