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Dublin: 9°C Friday 26 February 2021

People in Mullingar asked to conserve water to reduce risk of summer outages

Lough Owel, which supplies water to 50,000 homes and businesses, has now reached critically low levels.

Image: Shutterstock/Lipskiy

IRISH WATER HAS asked people in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, and surrounding areas to conserve as much water as possible. 

Lough Owel, which supplies water to 50,000 homes and businesses on the Mullingar Water Supply Scheme, has now reached critically low levels.

Up to 24 January, there was just a quarter of the average expected rainfall for the month.

The expected normal rise in water levels in the lake has stalled due to the current dry spell and while water levels are expected to rise later in the spring.

A spokesperson said Irish Water and Waterways Ireland are working to manage the water level in the lake “in order to reduce the risk of water outages in the coming summer and autumn”.

Lough Owel is a spring-fed lake and any rain that falls today will take a number of months to filter through soils and bedrock before it gets to the lake.

Even though there may be heavy rain on any given day, only the rain that falls on the lake, which is minimal, will have an immediate effect, Irish Water said in a statement released today. 

The company has advised people to take shorter showers and turn off the tap while brushing their teeth or shaving, saying the latter can save up to six litres of water per minute. 

What’s coming down the tracks 

Speaking about the current situation, John O’Donoghue, Irish Water Head of Operations for the East and Midlands Region, said: ‘‘It is very important that people are aware of what may be coming down the tracks.

“We are working in partnership with Westmeath County Council and Waterways Ireland to mitigate risks associated with low water levels in Lough Owel.” 

A spokesperson noted that over one million litres of water have been saved per day as part of the company’s First Fix Free Scheme in Co Westmeath. 

They added that Irish Water has accelerated its leakage reduction programme works and are replacing aging water mains in order to reduce leakage on the water network on the Lough Owel supply at the following locations:

  • Knockdrin, Mullingar – Rising water main renewal – 3.4km – complete
  • Rathconnell, Mullingar – Water main renewal – 1.2km – complete
  • Tore, Tyrrellspass – Water main renewal – 800m – complete
  • Mullingar Road, Tyrrellspass – Water main renewal – 800m – complete
  • Main Street, Kilbeggan – Water main renewal including lead service replacement – 500m – complete

Further leakage reduction works are underway and Irish Water has commenced the rehabilitation of 4.5km of water main at the Kilbeggan Racecourse which is scheduled to be completed in March. 

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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