Water supplies under pressure in Donegal - unless consumption drops disruptions could be on the way

Letterkenny, Leitirmacaward and east Donegal areas of particular concern

Water supplies under pressure in Donegal - unless consumption drops disruptions could be on the way

Water consumption has shot up

Hot weather combined with the increased use of water by households is now a major cause of concern for Irish Water.

And unless water conservation measures are taken, there is a danger that supplies could be interrupted in the weeks and months ahead.

Irish Water is now urging the people of Donegal to conserve water as demand continues to increase resulting in decreasing reservoir levels.

Working in partnership with Donegal County Council, Irish Water is urging customers to continue conserving water in every way possible as the weather conditions remain warm and the drought is increasingly reducing water levels in rivers, lakes and boreholes.

All of its Water Treatment Plants are operating at full capacity and decreasing reservoir levels are giving major cause for concern. 

Customers are urged to reduce water usage in every way possible to ensure a continuous supply for all.

In particular, it is appealing for people to use less water in the Letterkenny and Lettermacaward areas and also in much of the east of the county which is supplied by Lough Mourne.

“As well as reducing consumption, we are appealing to the public to report leaks on the public water network to 1850 278 278 and to repair private side leaks in both homes and in businesses,” a spokesperson said.

With people adhering to government advice and staying at home since mid-March in response to the Covid-19 crisis, Irish Water has confirmed that there has been a significant increase in household water usage.

New domestic metering data has revealed that households are using an additional 24 litres of water per person per day, a 20% increase from February. Water utilities in the UK have reported a similar increase.

Non-domestic water usage has decreased with many businesses, construction sites, schools, colleges, gyms, hotels, bars and restaurants temporarily closed. This reduction in demand has helped to off-set some of the domestic demand, however as domestic demand represents two thirds of Irish Water's business, its water supply is still under pressure.

In addition, as Government restrictions are lifted, many commercial premises will need to use extra water to clean and flush their plumbing systems and storage tanks or to complete deep cleans, while water usage in homes will continue to remain higher than normal.

As many water treatment plants are already working to their maximum capacity, Irish Water is appealing to the public to prioritise handwashing over power washing and conserve water now where they can, so that together we can meet the increased demands on our network when restrictions are relaxed for businesses.

There are some simple measures that the public can take including stopping the use of power washers at home; using a watering can rather than a hose in the garden; taking showers over baths; and fixing any dripping taps where it is possible to do so. There is advice and guidance for homes, businesses and farms, including information on how much water you can save with simple measures on water.ie/conservation.

Speaking about the need to conserve water, Irish Water’s Asset Operations Lead for Donegal, Kevin Love, said: “It is really important that everyone follows the HSE guidance on handwashing, however there are some ways to conserve water that will not impact on hygiene. Insights from meter reads show that households are now using 20% more water and we can see a significant change in water usage patterns in commuter belt towns and rural areas where significant numbers of people would usually be out of the house for long periods during the day. 

“We are also conscious that we have had an extremely dry spell so we are continually monitoring our water sources for any signs of drought. We are monitoring a number of water supplies in Co. Donegal that have reduced raw water source levels as a result of the prolonged dry period with particular focus on Letterkenny, Lettermacward and Lough Mourne. 

“At this time we are urging consumers on all water supplies to be mindful of their use at this time due to decreasing reservoir levels to minimise any short term measures or restrictions and to ensure there is water available for all customers on all parts of our supply network.

“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.

“It is essential that we act now to protect our supply and safeguard our water for essential usage. We can all work together to conserve water where possible and to ensure emergency leaks are being repaired,” he said.

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Live editorial team any time. To contact Donegal Democrat and Donegal People's Press, email editorial@donegaldemocrat.ie To contact Donegal Post, email editor@donegalpost.com To contact Inish Times, email editor@inishtimes.com.

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