Irish Water asks people not to water their gardens or power-wash external areas

The utility says resource should be conserved for essential purposes following dry spell

Irish Water is urging the public not to water gardens or undertake "cosmetic" washing of cars, patios and driveways in order to conserve supplies for essential purposes during the pandemic.

Leak detection staff and meter readers, who had been stood down due to Covid-19 restrictions, have been recalled to work to establish the extent of water demand.

The water system was experiencing a "period of high demand", with March an "unseasonably dry month", Irish Water said, while Met Éireann had indicated "the medium-term forecast is for less than usual rainfall".

“The balance between the amount of water we can sustainably produce and the demand on water required in some regions, including the Greater Dublin Area, is an ongoing challenge.”


At present there remained “adequate storage” in the “main” raw water and treated water reservoirs. However, Irish Water has had to introduce night-time restrictions in Co Longford in the area supplied by Cairnhill reservoir, and in the Aran Islands “to allow reservoir levels to recover”.

While restrictions were not currently planned at other reservoirs, Irish Water was “continually monitoring the situation, and we will react as appropriate to situations as they emerge”.

While emergency works and essential drinking water and waste-water services continued to operate during the pandemic, over the last two weeks the utility has recalled workers to operate a number of its services that were stood down because of restrictions on movement.

These include its “find and fix” programme which involves leak-detection crews using sounding equipment to locate leaks on pavements and other public areas.

Across the four Dublin local authorities and in a small number of regional areas “drive-by” meter-readings are also being reinstated to establish the extent of any increase in general consumption and the decrease in non-domestic demand following the closures of businesses.

Irish Water said it was not yet in a position to determine the extent of change in water usage during the pandemic, but added: “Given that it is only essential services and businesses that are operating normally and with more people at home, there has inevitably been an impact on the pattern of water use.”

It said it was urging people to “conserve water for essential purposes, e.g. hand-washing, cooking, sanitation”, and not undertake non-essential activities “including watering gardens or power-washing for cosmetic reasons”.

It was also asking businesses to turn off automatic flushers in any buildings which may be temporarily closed.

“Irish Water is also aware that there may be increased usage of antiseptic wipes at this time, and we would ask that these are disposed of in a bin as the flushing of wipes can cause blockages in the network. Even those wipes that are marked as flushable should be binned and not flushed.”

Similarly, Northern Ireland Water is asking people to "be mindful" of their water use by keeping showers to four minutes, reusing paddling pool water for plants or to wash bins, turning off the tap when brushing teeth, fixing leaking taps, using a bowl to wash vegetables, and only using a washing machine with a full load.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times