04 Jun Deputy Dillon calls for water conversation in Mayo as demand soars and drought conditions prevail
Alan Dillon TD has called for the public to conserve water in Mayo, being mindful and considerate in use of water as Irish Water has confirmed that it is ‘increasingly likely’ that a Water Conservation Order, more commonly known as a hosepipe ban will have to be put in place following increased demand on water and deteriorating drought conditions. This comes during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, when handwashing and hygiene remain critically important.
Two weeks ago, Irish Water, urged the public to choose handwashing over power washing as domestic water usage increased by an average of 20% as more people were staying at home in response to the Covid-19 crisis. Advertisements are currently running on radio and social media advising the public on tips to save water in the garden and in the home.
Now the increased domestic demand and increase in commercial demand as businesses are reopening is being exacerbated by warm weather and the widespread emergence of drought conditions.
Since March Irish Water has been carefully monitoring all of its raw water sources, that is the water from lakes, rivers, springs and ground sources that feed our water treatment plants.
To instigate a Water Conservation Order, strict criteria must be met under the Water Services Act 2007. Irish Water needs to be able to demonstrate that ‘a serious deficiency of water available for distribution exists or is likely to exist’.
Irish Water is currently gathering this data and if the current trend continues the likelihood is that a hosepipe ban will have to be imposed. Regardless of the outcome of this process and irrespective of whether a formal Water Conservation Order is in place or not Irish Water is again appealing to all customers to conserve water for essential use.
Speaking about the developing situation, Irish Water’s Drinking Water Lead for Mayo Ger Greally said,
“We are appealing to the public to redouble their efforts in conserving water in the home and in the garden. With so many people staying at home during the Covid-19 crisis, domestic demand for water increased by 20% at a time when our water treatment plants were working at maximum capacity.
“The decrease in the commercial use of water could not off-set the increase in domestic demand. Some of our highest water users include hospitals, food and pharmaceutical manufacturing and data centres, all of which used the same amount of water as normal during the Covid-19 crisis.
“The prolonged dry weather has exacerbated the demand on water. A drought means that the water sources like rivers, lakes, springs and ground water that supply the treatment plants are struggling, so at a time when all of the water we produce is being used, the amount we can produce is under threat in several areas around the “In Irish Water, we are continually looking at what we call the supply / demand balance. This means that we need to ensure that we can supply more treated drinking water than is required for use. We can manage this by conserving water; losing less by repairing leaks; and supplying smarter by ensuring that all of our plants are working optimally.
“Last Saturday was warm and sunny and Irish Water data shows that the demand on water at the Lough Mask water treatment plant increased by over 10% compared to the previous Saturday. This is equivalent to an extra 30,000 people using this scheme. This was replicated across the county with most treatment plants at absolute full capacity. The increase in demand for water runs the risk of households not having an adequate supply of water for essential hand washing hygiene., Said Deputy Dillon.
“Imposing a Water Conservation Order is not a measure that Irish Water wants to take but it is increasingly likely that we will have to do so. It is essential that our water supply is protected if we are to avoid restrictions and outages over the coming weeks and months.
“There are lots of helpful tips for conserving water on water.ie but the key things are to leave the hose and the pressure washer in the shed; don’t use paddling pools; reuse household water for the garden; and take shorter showers. Safeguarding the supply of water is essential at this time when handwashing and hygiene is of critical importance. We are calling on everyone to play their part.”