Threat to Laois water supply as Irish Water says 'restrictions may be unavoidable' in Portlaoise

Michelle Hogan


Michelle Hogan

Limerick public urged to conserve water as supply ‘continues to fall’

Despite weeks of rain and wet weather, Laois is still going to pay the price of the drought in summer as 28,000 people in Portlaoise may have to have nighttime restrictions on water due to a shortage in supply, according to Irish Water.

Irish Water (IW) has said water levels in the area "continue to drop" and restrictions may be "unavoidable". IW has appealed to people on the Portlaoise Water Supply Scheme to conserve water and report any leaks.

In a statement issued by Irish Water on Thursday, it said: "Reduction in demand, along with prolonged, heavy rainfall, are necessary to avoid ongoing restrictions that may be necessary into next Spring".

"Water restrictions may be necessary in the coming weeks, as water levels continue to drop in the aquifers that supply water to the Scheme.

"Homes and businesses on the public water supply in Portlaoise and surrounding areas are supplied by groundwater that comes from a number of local aquifer sources.

"The aquifers are underground lakes from which water is extracted via well fields and then piped to the water treatment plant at Kilminchy before being delivered to customers.

"After the exceptionally dry summer, the aquifers that feed the Scheme currently do not have sufficient storage to sustain a full water supply to the population dependent on it over the coming months.

"Approximately 28,000 customers depend on the Portlaoise Water Supply Scheme for their residential and business needs," IW has stated.

John O’Donoghue is the Irish Water Operations Manager for the East and Midlands.

"Under normal weather conditions, water levels would drop over the summer but then start to replenish in September and October.

"This has not been the case this year. Continued low rainfall levels mean the water supply is at an historic low. Even if there was a prolonged spell of heavy rain, it would take a number of months for that rain to percolate through soils and bedrock to recharge the aquifers and become available for abstraction," he said. 

Irish Water has said: "It is looking more and more likely that restrictions may be unavoidable and people need to be aware of what may be coming down the line.

"We are appealing to customers to conserve water wherever possible and report any leaks they see, immediately to Irish Water on 1850 278 278.’’