THE ‘big freeze’ last winter cost Dublin City Council €500,000 in overtime, water tankers and repairs, it has emerged.
The local authority revealed that it had to fix approximately 300 broken mains in January alone, a huge increase on the typical monthly figure of around 30.
Such was the impact of the freezing temperatures on the water infrastructure, Brian Smyth, Dublin City Council’s chief sanitary services engineer, said the local authority was still catching up with repairs on water mains.
The bitterly cold weather in December, January and ensuing months also increased the rate of leakage dramatically.
Leakage in the water system which serves six local authority areas in the east – from north Co Dublin down as far as Arklow in Co Wicklow, as well as taking in parts of Co Kildare – increased to 41% in January and February, a dramatic increase on the 2009 average of 29% and almost back to levels last seen in 1994.
Leakage has since dropped to 31% and Dublin City manager John Tierney said leakage levels of 20% or below were now being targeted, although considerable funding would be required to reach that level.
Sinead Hourihane, water conservation officer with Dublin City Council, said 70% of schools are now below the recommended leakage level following information campaigns in recent years.
Some schools in and around the capital had been hit with water charge bills as high as €40,000 in some cases, due to leakages, but she said most schools had now managed to reduce their bills to as little as €1,000 a year.
The city’s local authority, alongside neighbouring councils such as Fingal and south Dublin, have called on members of the public to make greater efforts to conserve water.
Mr Tierney said one fire station in the city will, from next month, take on a scheme where there will be no treated water being used on the facility, a project he described as “remarkable”.
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