Monday 15 October 2018

Rain brings floods but water restrictions stay in the 'critical' drought

Pedestrians are caught in a downpour in Westport, Co Mayo, yesterday
Pedestrians are caught in a downpour in Westport, Co Mayo, yesterday

Eimear Rabbitt

Water restrictions are to remain in Greater Dublin for two more weeks - despite heavy downpours and flooding in some parts of the country - with Irish Water describing the drought as "critical".

The hosepipe ban will continue until August 31.

It comes as Met Eireann issued a yellow rainfall warning, with heavy rain of up to 44mm expected to sweep Ireland.

However, Irish Water is concerned about the low level of water in the Poulaphouca Reservoir, one of the three main reservoirs supplying the Greater Dublin Area (GDA).

Torrential

There are fears for water supplies when schools and colleges reopen at the end of August as these are heavy users of the supply.

Yesterday saw torrential rain in Munster and flooding in the west of the country.

The yellow warning, which was in place until 9am today, affects Leinster, Monaghan, Donegal, Cavan and Waterford.

As the rain lashed the country yesterday afternoon, Irish Water released a statement saying: "It is the view of the water engineering experts within local authorities and Irish Water that the situation will remain critical up to and possibly beyond mid-August."

The utility's board met yesterday to discuss the "ongoing drought situation" and Irish Water's "ongoing response to safeguarding the supply of water for the future".

Irish Water said that its board reviewed the latest data on water usage, as well as the condition of raw water sources across the country, and that this led to the extension in restriction measures.

The "most severe" shortages continued to be in the east and south, where rivers, lakes and groundwater tables are "at record lows", the company said.

The latest Office of Public Works (OPW) flow data showed that more than half of rivers are at levels "previously unheard of in July".

Met Eireann has stated that rainfall in the short term will not be at a level to assist with the "recovery of raw water sources, particularly in the east and south".

The meteorologists have indicated that many parts of the east would need 90mm of rainfall to help soil to recover and to allow the replenishment of reservoirs.

Just 50mm has been recorded at the Phoenix Park in Dublin since May.

Irish Water's corporate affairs manager, Kate Gannon, said: "Irish Water's first priority is to safeguard the water supply for communities, ensure a consistent and safe supply and minimise the impact of the drought.

"The measures Irish Water has taken in the past few weeks have been done to conserve water while minimising the impact on homes and businesses.

"Irish Water is very aware that increased water pressure reductions in the GDA could have a negative impact on homes and businesses and the hospitality sector in particular. We are continuing to monitor the situation very closely."

People living and working in the GDA will experience night-time water pressure restrictions for two more weeks.

Online Editors

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