Environment Minister Phil Hogan has criticised Dublin City Council over the short notice it gave householders and businesses about the introduction of severe water restrictions on Wednesday.
Amid complaints by many traders about the negative impact on their business after the first night of water shortages, Mr Hogan yesterday expressed concern about how the local authority had announced the restrictions “on the airwaves”.
The minister said it was important to have a communication plan. “It could have been managed and handled better.”
However, he stressed the problem was due to an unforeseen technical issue at the council’s water treatment plant at Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare, which was “not easily resolved.”
Changes to the normal cloudiness of the water from the nearby Poulaphouca Reservoir has limited the council to treating just 225m litres of water on a daily basis compared to the normal level of 300m litres required to meet the water demands of 1.3m people.
Mr Hogan said he hoped a solution would be found quickly to enable the restrictions, which are operating between 8pm and 7am daily, to be lifted by next Monday. He acknowledged that the problem had resulted in serious inconvenience for many people but expressed confidence that the hours of restrictions would not need to be extended.
Last night fire crews at Dublin Fire Brigade braced themselves for one of the busiest nights of the year due to traditional Halloween bonfires which resulted in 600 call-outs last year.
A spokesperson for Dublin City Council said fire brigade units would not be hampered by the restrictions as a contingency plan had been put in place.
Asked on RTÉ’s News at One about possible compensation for traders who claimed Dublin businesses were losing €600,000 for each day of the restrictions, Mr Hogan said it was a matter between the council and its rate-payers.
However, he claimed emergency services, including the provision of water tankers, would be made available if requested by Dublin City Council.
Mr Hogan criticised the high leakage rate from the national pipe network, which he described as “disgracefully high” in some locations.
The Commission for Energy Regulation has estimated that 41% of all water is lost in the network.
Mr Hogan said the establishment of Irish Water and the introduction of water metering should result in greater efficiencies as and reduced consumption of up to 15%. However, he expressed concern about possible delays to a controversial €500m plan to drain water from the River Shannon to guarantee water supplies for the greater Dublin region which has a target completion date of 2020.
Meanwhile, the Restaurants Association of Ireland said the water restrictions seemed to be having a negative impact on pre-bookings for restaurants this weekend.
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