Good progress being made to restore water around the country as Irish Water continues pressure reductions to protect Dublin’s supply
• Irish Water and the four Dublin Local Authorities, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow County Councils had to act to protect homes and businesses in Dublin and avoid widespread outages in the capital
• Demand for drinking water outstripped the supply by of the daily usage of Cork City
The aftermath of Storm Emma has had a significant impact on the water network around the country as the extreme cold damaged water treatment plants and has led to significant amount of pipe bursts. Local Authority crews have been on the ground working to make repairs and restore supply and significant progress has been made. In all 16,000 number of people outside Dublin are now without water and 37,000 are on restricted supply. Counties including Westmeath, Laois, Longford, Kildare and Donegal now have full supply restored thanks to work on the ground by the Local Authorities.
However, in Dublin the condition of the pipes where the average age is 80 years, significant leakage and increased demand has resulted in the need to reduce pressure overnight in a bid to allow reservoirs to fill and avoid daytime outages that would have a huge impact on homes, schools and business.
On Monday 5 March across the Dublin region, the demand for drinking water outstripped the supply by 28 million litres which is the equivalent of the daily usage of the population of Cork City.
The decision to reduce pressure across the Dublin network for a 12 hour period on Monday evening was one that was not taken lightly but we needed to ensure the city continued to function.
Following the first pressure reduction on Monday night from 7pm to 7am, Irish Water worked with the Local Authorities to assess the impact on our customers. Following feedback the pressure reduction time period was amended to 8pm to 6am on Tuesday night.
In comparing yesterday with the previous day, we can now attribute a significant factor in the reduced demand has been shutting off of running taps and broken pipes within premises. That factor is now resolved.
The balance can now be attributed to leaks, primarily on the network which will require a sustained program of work over weeks and months to reach pre Storm Emma levels, which were themselves too high and which we were working to reduce.
In the coming period, we will continue to drive maximum output from our production plants (though these would not be sustainable indefinitely). This leaves pressure restrictions as the last resort and this will be managed and hopefully moderated as the situation improves.
We were concerned on Tuesday of reports of some areas, particularly in the Rathmines, Rathgar, Milltown area being without water entirely. As a result this area was not subject to pressure reduction on Tuesday night. Persistent problems with water supply in these areas suggest that there are significant leaks in the area and leak detection and repair crews have been dispatched as a matter of urgency.
Some other areas on the extremities of the network such as Ballyboden and Mount Venus Road were also without water. Areas like this and ones on high ground will always be impacted more severely if pressure drops. If water does not recover Irish Water working with the local authorities will arrange an alternative water supply.
The restrictions over the past two nights have resulted in some improvement but we have a way to go. It is essential to allow our reservoirs to refill as repairs to bursts and leaks are underway.
Homes will have storage in their attic tanks and businesses should also have storage on site. We expect that on high ground and on the extremities of the network, people will be more likely to experience some outages. Likewise in apartment blocks we are getting reports of water pressure being poor particularly on higher floors.
At present there are 22 Local Authority and contract specialised leak detection crews out across the Greater Dublin Area and 26 repair crews prioritising the most significant bursts and leaks first.
Fine Gael Councillor - North Inner City
Leader, Fine Gael, Dublin City Council
Chair, Urban Form & Planning Strategic Policy Committee