CUTS TO water supplies throughout Dublin city and county could continue until Christmas, a senior local authority engineer has warned.
The four Dublin local authorities have begun to implement night-time water restrictions, cutting the supply to houses between 7pm and 7am, which will affect some suburbs more than others.
The cuts are needed because of the dwindling supplies at the county’s reservoirs caused by leaks and wasting of water by residents who have been running taps in the belief that it will prevent pipes from freezing.
The levels of water in the reservoirs serving the city and county have been falling by an average of 20 megalitres (million litres) per day. The demand for water had increased over the last week from 538 megalitres on Sunday November 28th to 575 last Sunday. Dublin’s water treatment plants can produce about 560 megalitres per day.
City manager John Tierney has assured Dubliners that water tanks in every home or business will have sufficient quantity to cover the amount of water needed when water will be restricted.
“We acknowledge and appreciate the high level of co-operation and assistance already received from consumers. With their continued support it will be possible to limit the level of restrictions.”
However, he said supplies would only be maintained if householders didn’t leave taps running during the cold weather or hoard water in baths.
Water restrictions in the city began last night and are planned to continue for the next two nights, the city manager said, with cuts to the supply running into buildings in some parts of the city and reductions in pressure in others.
However, senior engineer with South Dublin County Council Dermot Finch said the restrictions in his area could continue for weeks. “We’ll be turning off the water every night for the foreseeable future until such time as the reservoirs recover. If the residents don’t run the taps unnecessarily and don’t fill baths, we hope the the restrictions will end by Christmas.”
Fingal County Council has planned restrictions for the next three nights. A different selection of suburbs will be chosen each night so that no area has its water cut two nights in a row. The council is advising householders not to run dishwashers or washing machines, which can draw a significant amount of water, on the days that restrictions apply to their areas.
Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council will decide which areas will have a cut in supply by 5pm each day. The council has not determined how long the cuts will continue but has advised that older houses are likely to experience delays in the restoration of full supplies each day.
Dublin Chamber of Commerce said the lack of notice for the cuts was unacceptable.
“It is completely frustrating that there has been no communication with ratepayers who are funding this city,” spokesman Patrick King said. “It’s unbelievable that householders are again running taps after what happened in January and it shows up the urgent need for domestic charging for water.
Labour city councillor Kevin Humphreys said it was unfortunate that the council hadn’t been able to give more notice of the restrictions, but the loss of water became a major issue only last weekend.
“We need to act now as a matter of urgency. If we can reduce the usage of water over the next few weeks, we can avoid having to bring in the tankers as we did last January when households were left without water.”
Details of the restrictions will be available each day on the local authority websites: dublincity.ie, fingalcoco.ie, dlrcoco.ie and sdcc.ie.