Water supply in Dublin area on knife-edge

THE water supply to the country’s largest urban area is on a knife-edge, with senior managers warning that members of the public will have to conserve water to ensure there are no future shortages.

Demand in the greater Dublin area, which takes in households in six local authority regions, has been outstripping supply. The daily pressure on supplies comes at a time when there is traditionally an increase in demand in the summer months.

Figures released by Dublin City Council for 2009 showed regional demand stood at 540 million litres a day (MLD), whereas production stood at 518MLD.

A serious increase in demand during the freezing early months of the year has seen that situation worsen, and the local authority said that while storage of raw water has not yet reached a level that would warrant the introduction of restrictions on supply, the public needed to take measures to increase conservation.

Some 1.4 million people use water from a variety of sources, including the water treatment plant in Ballymore Eustace next to the Poulaphouca Reservoir and other storage facilities in Roundwood and Bohernabreena.

Poulaphouca, the largest raw water storage reservoir, is currently at 120 days as opposed to 200 days when full. Similarly, the facility in Roundwood is at 160 days as opposed to 200 days when full, while Bohernabreena is at 75 days as opposed to 100 days when full.

Drinking water equates to just 4% of water usage in a home, compared to 30% for toilet flushing and 21% for baths and taps.

Dublin City manager John Tierney said: “The capacity of the rivers in the Dublin region to supply water is limited and we need a new source because demand for water is increasing and will continue to increase.

“Demand is expected to increase to 800 million litres a day by 2031 and we are planning now to meet the expected demand.”

The city council has urged households to conserve water through simple methods such as not using water to hose gardens, not letting the tap run while brushing your teeth, reducing the length of showers and buying a water butt to collect rainwater from the house roof and downpipes that can be used to water plants. There has been a three-fold increase in the number of water butts bought so far this year.

“Long-term water supply to Dublin should be a national project,” Mr Tierney said.

Water charges for domestic use would not be a revenue generating exercise, he stressed, adding that any future charge would have to be set at a level which would meet cost of supply.

* www.taptips.ie or www.dublincity.ie

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