Warning of unsustainable drinking water supplies

With temperatures expected to top 30C today and stay as high as 26C tonight, Irish Water has warned a surge in demand for drinking water, coupled with falling supplies, is “not sustainable” and could worsen drought conditions.

As the searing heatwave continues, Met Éireann has issued two heat warnings as temperatures are expected to remain high for the next three days. People are being urged to take care in the extreme conditions.

The weather service has issued a Status Orange High Temperature warning, for the first time ever, for counties Cavan, Monaghan, Roscommon, Longford, Westmeath and south Leitrim, where daytime temperatures are expected to exceed 30C.

At Garretstown Co Cork was Leon and Ruby O’Flynn. Picture Denis Boyle

Met Éireann also issued a Status Yellow High Temperature warning for the rest of the country. Both warnings remain in effect until Friday morning.

Temperatures could remain at 25C or 26C at midnight tonight, and the 30C mark could be breached “in a few locations” over the coming days, Met Éireann’s head forecaster Evelyn Cusack warned.

UCC climate scientist and founder of Ireland’s Weather Channel, Cathal Nolan, said the heat may intensify today.

It looks like Wednesday will likely be the heaviest, though it’s difficult to say with accuracy, as the highest temperatures can be very localised,” he said.

The hottest temperature recorded so far this year was 29.5C in Galway on Saturday, but the midlands and west could see the heat rise to 31C or more across today and tomorrow.

The heat warnings come as Irish Water has appealed to consumers to conserve water as the hot weather has led to increased domestic and commercial demand and impacted supplies.

In Cork, demand for drinking water has increased by 25% on many supplies, and the water utility, along with Cork City and county councils, has warned that this extra demand, combined with high temperatures and falling water source levels, is not sustainable.

While Irish Water said all supplies across the county are seeing increased demand, it is particularly high in West and North Cork. Households, farms, and businesses in those areas are urged to cut consumption “as much as possible”.

Enjoying the sunshine at the beach at Garretstown Co Cork was Fiona McCarthy, Elaine O'Flynn, Susan Cotter and Megan Coughlan. Picture Denis Boyle

Enjoying the sunshine at the beach at Garretstown Co Cork was Fiona McCarthy, Elaine O’Flynn, Susan Cotter and Megan Coughlan. Picture Denis Boyle

Nationally, while the majority of supplies are not in drought or at risk of drought, the utility has also made “urgent” conservation appeals in Kerry, Limerick, and Donegal, with nighttime restrictions in place in Enniscorthy in Wexford, Portlaoise, and a small area of Longford to ensure daytime supplies for all.

Irish Water is asking people to take shorter showers, avoid using paddling pools, turn off the tap when brushing their teeth or shaving, and to save and reuse water collected from baths, showers, and hand basins in the garden.

Irish Water’s head of asset operations Tom Cuddy said: “We are appealing to the public to continue their efforts in conserving water for essential use only in the home, in the garden, at work and on the farm, especially over the coming weeks. 

By conserving water now we can help protect supplies of water in areas that are in drought or at risk of drought as we move into late summer.”

The Department of Agriculture has also issued a Status Orange forest fire warning until Friday when the phase of fire risk is predicted to peak. Forest visitors are being instructed not to use barbecues or light fires.

Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has advised people to stay safe during the heatwave.

As well as using plenty of the correct SPF sunscreen — at least 30+ for adults and 50+ for children — people should keep themselves cool and hydrated.

They should also be on the lookout for signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

These include headache, dizziness and confusion, loss of appetite and feeling sick, fast breathing or pulse, high temperature of 38C or above, and feeling very thirsty.

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