"We don't know what the problem is"
on 30/10/2013 11:23:47
Council chiefs have imposed severe restrictions across greater Dublin for the next five days and a lot of people will have no water between 8pm and 7am.
The issue has been a serious reduction in the quality of water coming into the Ballymore Eustace treatment plant in Co Kildare.
Michael Phillips, Dublin City Council engineer, said staff have been working to solve the problem for 10 days.
"It's mainly the change of the character of the water coming into the plant and it's proving very difficult to treat it," he said.
"There's no issue with the final water quality coming out - people do not have to worry about that, but production is down about 20%."
Mr Phillips added: "We don't know what caused the change in this."
The restrictions will hit homes and businesses in Fingal, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, Dublin city and the south county areas, as well as into Kildare and Wicklow.
Water pressure in taps is being hit and loss of supply is also likely, councils have said, and it is expected the problem will last until next Monday.
The change is water character coming into the plant has seen a different colour and turbidity or cloudiness than the plant is used to handling.
Engineers and water quality experts are now trying to use different treatment processes to clear the water, specifically a particular kind of polyelectrolyte used in the process.
There is no issue with the quality of water being supplied to people's homes.
Mr Phillips told RTÉ Radio one possible cause being looked at was that Ireland enjoyed a "fine summer" and the nature of water flowing from rivers into reservoirs has been altered.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland criticised how the water restrictions will impact businesses.
Adrian Cummins, chief executive, called for tankers of water to be delivered.
He described Ireland as a "third-world country" and claimed water shortages or restrictions seem to be happening every six months.
"We had a water shortage during the summer, we have a water shortage now, and probably if we have snow in the winter time, we will have a water shortage again," he said.
The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) said that major hotels should not be affected by the restrictions as they have large tanks with enough water supplying enough for two days. It said once restrictions are lifted during the day tanks will be replenished.
Households have been urged to conserve water during the day as much as possible.
Tips include keeping a jug of water in the fridge instead of running the tap, only using the dishwasher and washing machine when full, turning off taps while brushing teeth, minimising toilet flushes and taking quick showers.
"Ten minutes in a power-shower uses 250 litres of water, two-and-a-half times more than a bath does (100 litres)," council chiefs said.
Mary Fitzpatrick, Fianna Fáil councillor, said the water shortage issue highlights the absurdity of introducing water metering.
"The Government is making a major mistake prioritising metering ahead of fixing leaks and building new water sources," she said.