By Eoin English
Residents in Cork city have been advised to conserve water amid fears of possible supply restrictions over the coming hours as the thaw sets in.
A surge in water demand has been identified city-wide following a series of pressure tests on the city's water network this morning. A particular spike in demand has been identified in the elevated areas on the northside.
It is believed the surge has been caused largely by people running their taps in a bid to avoid losing water due to frozen pipes.
The city's water supply issue has been compounded by a massive loss of water in the system following a huge leak caused by a burst pipe at the former Square Deal premises on Washington St - a vacant premises.
Cork City Council is requesting the public not to leave taps running - the water network is currently experiencing some difficulties due high demand and the ongoing occurrence of water leaks, crews are working to assess these problems currently. pic.twitter.com/0Z6jbbmNLW— Cork City Council (@corkcitycouncil) March 3, 2018
The alarm was raised last night by a member of the public and engineers from the city council's water section, and one unit of Cork City Fire Brigade, responded.
They tackled the leak quickly but not before a substantial quantity of water was lost to the system.
Engineers have this morning rebalanced flows and pressure in the city's water network to accommodate for the increase in demand.
But officials in the city's emergency management team said the next few hours will be critical.
"We are now entering a critical phase," a spokesman said.
"We would appeal to people to conserve the water supply otherwise the supply could be compromised on a localised basis."
Repairs crews are also on standby to respond to reports of broken pipes.
As the thaw sets, the ground will shift, increasing the possibility of pipes breaking.
Civil Defence teams were also deployed in the city last night and again this morning to deliver water and electric heaters to a number of sheltered housing projects for the elderly who lost water, and then heating.
The Civil Defence and Defence Forces are also on duty to transport staff and patients to various hospitals, with a particular focus on dialysis patients.
Meanwhile, Cork Airport is aiming to re-open at 12 noon.
9.24am: Cork city escapes floods but flights at Cork Airport still grounded despite massive clearance efforts
High tide has passed in Cork city without incident but flights won’t resume at Cork Airport before 10am.
Despite maintenance crews and external contractors working through the night, Cork Airport confirmed earlier that it remains closed until a further update at 10am.
Fresh snowfall overnight, which is still being cleared from the runway, taxiways and apron has delayed the reopening. Passengers are advised to check the status of their flight with their airline.
Maintenance crew have cleared over 250 truck loads of snow from the airfield in the last 48 hours - five times more snow than was cleared after the 2010 big freeze.
Buses are due to run from midday when the Black Ash Park and ride is due to open along with Paul St and North Main St car parks, public parks, libraries, and swimming pools.