Water supplies could be curtailed as IW launches conservation appeal

Irish Water says domestic supplies may have to be curtailed if people don't conserve water.

Irish Water says metering data has revealed that the on average, households are using an additional 24 litres of water per person per day, a 20% increase from February.

This is offset in part by the fact that non-domestic water usage has decreased with many businesses temporarily closed. However, Irish Water says because domestic demand represents two thirds of their business, supplies are still under pressure.

There are also fears that when Government restrictions are lifted, many commercial premises will need to use extra water, while usage in homes continues to remain higher than normal.

Irish Water say they are closely monitoring the raw water sources for Pettigo, Letterkenny, Lettermacward and Lough Mourne which are depleting due to a lack of rainfall. Measures are being put in place to minimise any potential interruption to supply due to water shortages, and people are being urged to conserve water..

If conservation appeals don't work, today's statement warns, they may need to go a step further by introducing night time restrictions to allow our treated water storage reservoir levels to recover at night.

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Statement in full -

Irish Water urges public in Donegal to choose handwashing over powerwashing as domestic water usage increases by an average of 20% in homes across the country

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 our business, our water supply is still under pressure.

In addition, when 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 of our water treatment plants are already working to their maximum capacity, Irish Water is appealing to the public to prioritise handwashing over powerwashing 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 powerwashers 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 Drinking Water 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  towns, housing estates 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. Currently we are closely monitoring the raw water sources for Pettigo, Letterkenny, Lettermacward and Lough Mourne which are depleting due to a lack of rainfall and putting measures in place to minismise any potential interruption to supply due to water shortages.

“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. For the Pettigo, Letterkenny, Lettermacaward and Lough Mourne water supplies we may need to go a step further by introducing night time restrictions to allow our treated water storage reservoir levels to recover at night.

‘’We will be continuing to carry out planned leakage investigation and repair on these water supply zones to minimise water lost through leaking mains and fittings and ensure customers have a consistent supply of water.

“We can all work together to conserve and to ensure emergency leaks are being repaired at this time by our Local Authority and other partners. But in line with government restrictions to protect us all from the spread of Covid-19 other work has been postponed and we expect a return to work soon as the phased introduction of non-critical activity allows. It is essential that we act now to protect our supply and safeguard our water for essential usage.”