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Dublin: 17 °C Wednesday 17 July, 2019
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Irish Water asked for schools to reduce or turn off their water supplies during the drought

Documents show that Irish Water made the request for when schools broke for the summer holidays.

Image: Eleanor Keegan/Rollingnews.ie

DURING THE RECENT heatwave, Irish Water requested that all schools take extra measures to conserve water, even though a great number of them would be closed over the summer.

In documents released to TheJournal.ie under the Freedom of Information Act, Irish Water asked for assistance from the Department of Housing to put in contact with the Department of Education to help arrange this water conservation at Irish schools.

After the unprecedented heatwave that started in June hit reservoir levels hard across the country, Irish Water introduced a number of restrictions to water, beginning with a hosepipe ban in the Greater Dublin Area.

The company urged the public to conserve water wherever possible, and from the correspondence it is clear that Irish Water was seeking to reduce water consumption in every way possible.

An Irish Water official wrote on 27 June, in the midst of the heatwave: “It was identified that many primary, secondary and third level schools will close over the summer, but water usage will continue as many now have automated and timer flushes for urinals and internal water systems.

Is it possible for the Department of Housing to request that the Department of Education contact the school representations, to ask to them to reduce or turn off their supplies as an immediate short term water conservation measure?

water schools

The Housing Department then furnished details of officials at the Department of Education that could help coordinate this request.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, a Department of Education spokesperson said that it issues advice to all schools to be prepared for all weather events that may affect them in any way.

The spokesperson said: “While this advice has heretofore been focussed on winter-type events, we have just had for the first time in many years a heatwave that gave rise to what was called a warm weather emergency, with consequent drought and other heat-related results.

While on this occasion the response to the drought came too late to be implemented in schools – the relevant Irish Water meeting was on 28 June – we expect that in future such scenarios, Irish Water will ask for the support of the Department in encouraging school managers to reduce or turn off their supplies as an immediate short-term water conservation measure.

The department, as well having a “Be Winter Ready” booklet of advice to schools, update its guidance to reflect the possibility for further droughts in warm weather in the future.

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Sean Murray

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