29 Nov 2021

Laois water supply on the brink for 30,000 people as heatwave and drought continue

Laois towns are coming under pressure as water levels run critically low with the potential to impact almost 30,000 people, while a rural reservoir is almost depleted.

The Portlaoise water supply and the Derryguile Water Treatment Plant in Mountmellick are under pressure according to Irish Water with a potential impact on approximately 27,000 people this week as temperatures continue to soar.

Irish Water also says that supply may be disrupted to Portarlington, Sandy Row, Whitefields and surrounding areas in order to preserve reservoir levels. These restrictions are in place until further notice.

“We have a serious challenge to ensure we can deliver clean safe drinking water for everyone,” a spokesperosn for Irish Water said.

Irish Water has said hospipe bans are likely in Laois over the coming week.

 Night time restrictions have been put in place and will continue on the Mountmellick Road area of Portlaoise due to known high levels of leakage.

Ballyadams, Crannagh, Ballylinan and Pedigree are experiencing lower pressures since Sunday due to supply restrictions, with the main reservoir at Gallow Hill being “almost depleted.”

The Swan Water Treatment Plant is on nightly restrictions, impacting approximately 1,500 people.

Four  water tankers are in place  for public use and one was brought in for animals.

Irish Water is asking Laois customers to conserve water as much as possible.

MET EIREANN WEATHER WARNING - Is the heatwave set to continue?

Met Eireann has issued a nationwide Status Yellow drought warning as drought or near-drought conditions are expected to develop more widely across the country.

Irish Water has said that as the warm weather continues, the demand on water supplies remains high while available water resources are diminishing.

Irish Water is appealing to the public to conserve water as much as possible and to avoid unnecessary use of water.

The weather has been dry since late February this year with Met Éireann reporting that the level of rain that as fallen is on par with 1976 when a major drought was in place. It is likely that the measures we are taking will be in place for weeks if not months.

Irish Water has 39 water supplies under night-time water restrictions and over 130 water supplies at risk due to high consumption.

Weekend demand data suggests that there was some reduction down to 575 mega litres in the Greater Dublin region over the weekend as the ‘hosepipe ban’ was announced, however we know that usage drops at weekends as many people leave the area.

Popular Laois business issued with food safety closure order.

The same hosepipe ban could be introduced in Laois this week to conserve water.

The Water Conservation Order for the Greater Dublin Area is in place until the 31st of July but Irish Water will keep the situation under review and may have to extend the period of time the Order is in place. It is likely that similar orders will be brought in over the coming weeks on other schemes.

The prohibited use will apply to the use of water drawn through a hosepipe or similar for the purpose of:

watering a garden with a hose or sprinkler
cleaning a private motor-vehicle using a domestic hosepipe
cleaning a private leisure boat using a hosepipe
filling or maintaining a domestic swimming or paddling pool (except when using hand held containers filled directly from a tap)
filling or maintaining a domestic pond (excluding fish ponds) using a hosepipe
filling or maintaining an ornamental fountain (with the exception of such use for commercial purposes)
use of water for filling or replenishing an artificial pond (excluding fish ponds), lake or similar application.

The purpose of these orders is to get maximum public support and engagement on minimising water use during the crisis.

Drought orders provide certain powers of enforcement which will be used to address continuing and excessive wastage of water during the crisis.

Irish Water expect the vast majority of people will adhere to the Water Conservation Order and that there will be very few prosecutions while the order is in force.

Irish Water’s primary concern is for longer term supplies in late summer and autumn.

Laois farmers could feel the effects of the heatwave in winter.

Based on modelling previous dry years, and allowing for how dry the ground is at the moment, it is important to maximise conservation of raw water now to secure needs over the coming months.

Kate Gannon is Irish Water’s Corporate Affairs Manager.

“We thank the public for their water conservation efforts to date.

“We need customers to change their mind set on their water usage and to conserve water now and in the weeks and months ahead.

“It will take a period of sustained rainfall for raw water in rivers, lakes and boreholes across the country to restore.

“Due to the high demand in water usage nationally it will also take time for treated drinking water in our storage reservoirs to restore. All savings made now will help to reduce the likelihood further restrictions for the remainder of the summer and into the autumn.

“We have a serious challenge to ensure we can deliver clean safe drinking water for everyone, given the current state of our network and the impact that sustained warm weather has had on water supplies both nationally and in the Greater Dublin Area.

“We thank everyone who has already taken action and we need a collective effort from the public to conserve water, and that behaviours change into the future as the threat to supplies remain beyond the current hot spell.

“We urge customers to conserve water and to work with us by following our tips such as taking short showers instead of baths, turning taps off when brushing teeth and not using hosepipes in gardens and limiting use of water in paddling pools.

“We are asking the public to continue to conserve water in the months ahead and to follow our advice for longer term water conservation’’

”Local authority crews supported by contractor resources are working to maximise water availability, though managing pressures to the minimum which avoids loss of supply and repair leaks on the public network.

“This work will continue and intensify in the months ahead and we are using all available tools to monitor our water supplies to conserve water.”

“When the current hot weather ends we will still need customers to be mindful of their water usage for the months ahead to protect the available water for the remainder of the summer and into the autumn. Wider water restrictions may become unavoidable if the demand does not drop towards normal levels. Every effort someone makes in their home or business impacts their neighbour and community and we are asking everyone to collectively take responsibility for their water usage to benefit their whole community. Irish Water have lots of tips for conserving water in the home, garden and business on,” she said.

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