Irish Water has confirmed that a National Water Conservation Order commonly referred to as a hosepipe ban will be in place from Tuesday 9th June until Tuesday 21st July. Four weeks ago, Irish Water urged the public to choose handwashing over power washing as domestic water usage increased as people stayed at home in response to the Covid-19 crisis. 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.
The Water Conservation Order has been issued in a bid to safeguard water supplies for essential purposes.
Met Eireann has confirmed that May 2020 was the driest since 1850. Their data shows that temperatures were above average in nearly all areas and rainfall totals in every county were below average for the season, with the Greater Dublin Area, Westmeath, Sligo and Tipperary experiencing their driest spring on record. 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. Of Irish Water’s 900 drinking water schemes, 27 currently are in drought and 50 are at risk of going into drought. The weather forecast is for a continuation of drier than normal conditions which will further exacerbate the situation.
Irish Water’s data shows dramatic spikes of water usage on very sunny days. During the June Bank holiday, the exceptionally warm saw an equivalent daily increase of water usage for an additional 200,000 people being used in the Greater Dublin Area. This increase in demand was replicated across the country. Given the current pressures on the water sources, this level of demand cannot be accommodated in the coming weeks.
The amount of rainfall needed to replenish supplies varies around the country and is site specific however Irish Water estimate that a minimum accumulation of 100mm rainfall spread over a number of weeks would be required and normal rainfall levels after that before the threat to water sources would pass.
The Conservation Order prohibits the use of garden hosepipes and other non-essential uses of water by domestic users and commercial premises for non-commercial activities for example watering gardens attached to a business premises. The Water Conservation Order (hosepipe ban) will be in place until midnight on Tuesday 21 July.