WATER restrictions are coming on stream as Laois sizzles in a record-breaking heatwave.
Householders in the south-east of the county have had nightly water restrictions since before the weekend. Now, Portlaoise and the rest of the county looks set to follow this week.
Irish Water says that the Portlaoise water supply and the Derryguile Water Treatment Plant in particular are coming under pressure, potentially affecting about 5,000 people. The company is appealing to householders to conserve water and says that restrictions are likely to be put in place this week unless the demand for water drops. A hosepipe ban is expected to be imposed in the coming days.
A new weather station record of 30.9c set in Durrow last Wednesday was broken the following day when the mercury soared to a sweltering 31.3c. Meanwhile, temperatures exceeded 30c across the county.
Although temperatures fell over the weekend and are in the relatively cool low 20s this week, little rain is forecast and near-drought conditions are expected to intensify. Met Éireann’s status yellow advisory warning says that little or no rain is forecast for most areas over the coming week, bringing drought or near-drought conditions. The warning is valid up to Friday.
In Portlaoise, Irish Water says that leak detection works this week may cause supply disruptions to the Mountmellick Road, Ballyfin Road, Fair Green South, Fair Green North, Kyletalesha, Clonreher and surrounding areas. The works are expected to be completed by 6am tomorrow (Wednesday).
Reservoir maintenance is causing some supply disruptions to Stradbally and surrounding areas and are expected to be finished by 4pm today (Tuesday). Step-testing works may cause supply disruptions to Meelick, Portlaoise and surrounding areas.
In order to preserve reservoir levels, Irish Water says that supply may be disrupted to Portarlington, Sandy Row, Whitefields and surrounding areas and restrictions are in place until further notice.
The Laois south-east regional supply, covering areas that include Ballyadams, Crannagh, Ballylinan and Pedigree, is experiencing lower pressures due to necessary supply restrictions. Meanwhile, The Swan Water Treatment Plant is on nightly restrictions since before the weekend, affecting about 1,500 people. There are nightly water outages from 10pm to 6am to allow treated water levels in Wolfhill reservoir to recover.
The water restriction is affecting residents in The Swan, Wolfhill, Mayo and Doonane areas and will remain in place until water levels in the reservoir recover. Four static water tankers are in place throughout the network for public use and an additional tanker is available for farm animals only.
In Portarlington, a number of areas are experiencing intermittent supply and/or low water pressure due to low borehole levels. Water supply was restored to residential areas in Portarlington last Friday afternoon following outages on Thursday, while leak repairs were carried out on the network following reports by members of the public.
Irish Water says that it is working with Laois Co Council and other local authorities to do everything possible to conserve the water available and is examining how to make further inroads into leakage. A spokesperson for Irish Water said: “This requires that non-essential uses are stopped while the crisis lasts and the company is drafting drought orders to ban such uses for schemes in crisis. We have also been in touch with large commercial users, who have committed to conserve water.”
Irish Water’s national drought management team is meeting daily and is monitoring water supplies and demand around the country. The work is coordinated daily through three regional teams and the 31 local authorities operating the system. Local authority crews have been on the ground managing supplies, trying to control pressures and, in critical schemes, managing restrictions on night use to try to protect critical day-time use. Crews are also busy identifying and fixing leaks.
Irish Water has also mobilised tankers to fill reservoirs that are most at risk and is in touch with farming organisations, offering assistance where water shortages are leading to animal welfare concerns. The spokesperson said: “In critical situations, we will accommodate farmers who need to collect water by tanker, where it can be made available to meet urgent needs.”
The spokesperson warned: “We have a long way to go. If the drought is prolonged, water restrictions will become unavoidable if demand does not drop towards normal levels. We will take necessary legal measures available to us to ensure that we minimise risk of supply loss to businesses and communities.”
There are tips for conserving water in the home, garden and business on water.ie.