Following recent heavy rainfall and improving river and ground water conditions Irish Water has lifted the Water Conservation Order, more commonly known as the hosepipe ban that was put in place with effect from 9 June. The Water Conservation Order was issued in a bid to safeguard water supplies for essential purposes, in particular water needed for sanitation purposes during the COVID-19 crisis.
Earlier this week, Irish Water again met with key groups including Met Éireann to discuss the forecast and the OPW and EPA who monitor the levels of lakes and rivers to review and assess their data.
The Water Services Act, which allows for a Water Conservation Order, requires Irish Water to ‘form the opinion’ that ‘a serious deficiency of water available for distribution exists or is likely to exist’. Following a review of Irish Water data together with the latest information from Met Éireann, the OPW and the EPA, the utility is now in a position to remove the Water Conservation Order from 5pm on Wednesday 8 July.
When the Water Conservation Order was issued, 27 of Irish Water’s 900 drinking water schemes were in drought with another 50 at risk of going into drought. Thereafter the situation deteriorated rapidly with the number of schemes in drought or at risk of drought peaking at 98.
Thankfully from a water supply perspective over the past couple of weeks there has been above average rainfall in many areas of the country. This has resulted in the recovery of some of the water supplies that were in drought or at risk of drought. Currently only 17 schemes remain in drought and a further 61 are at risk. While the overall numbers are trending downwards, the situation is not uniform across the country and the recovery of some sources is very fragile.
Commenting on the lifting of the Water Conservation Order, the Managing Director of Irish Water Niall Gleeson said:
“Irish Water is continuing to monitor the affected water sources as their recovery is fragile and subject to change. We will continue to liaise with Met Eireann, the OPW, the EPA and other key stakeholders to discuss the impact of weather on our sources. Should we enter a spell of prolonged warm and dry weather, and if the sources go into drought again, we may need to reconsider and re-impose a Water Conservation Order. Safeguarding the water supply for homes and communities across the country is a critical priority for us.
“It is really important that members of the public develop good household habits at this time and conserve water, regardless of rainfall. Any non-essential use of water should be discouraged, whether we are in a drought or not.
“We would like to thank the public for their efforts in conserving water in their homes and gardens over the past number of weeks and to remember those good household habits should the good weather return. Thanks also to our large water users who have worked proactively with us to use water more efficiently in their businesses. We are grateful for their diligence at this time.”
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