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Lough Mask water supply maxed out


UNDER PRESSURE The Lough Mask water treatment plant. Pic: Paul Mealey

Water restrictions in Louisburgh after reservoir levels run low

Anton McNulty

The Lough Mask water supply, which provides water for over 40,000 customers in Mayo, is at demand capacity after people left taps running in their homes and on their farms.
Irish Water issued another statement yesterday (Monday) evening, warning customers to conserve water as water supply schemes across the county struggle to deal with excessive demand.
While leaks caused by frozen pipes, especially on farms, have caused supply problems throughout the county, Irish Water believes that people leaving their taps on is the main factor behind the shortage of water in reservoirs.
“Across Mayo there are issues with high demand. Irish Water is appealing to customers to turn off taps and check for leaks on their own properties and in holiday homes and unoccupied premises,” an Irish Water spokesperson said in a statement issued on Monday evening.
“The Lough Mask supply is at capacity with high demand also being registered on the Achill, Mulranny, Westport, Erris, and Ballina water supply schemes due to, more than likely, taps being left running in peoples’ homes and on farms.”
The Lough Mask Water Supply is the largest in Co Mayo, supplying vast swathes of the county, including customers in Castlebar, Westport and much of south Mayo, as well as parts of Co Roscommon and Co Galway.

Meanwhile, for the second night in a row, restrictions were placed on the Louisburgh Group Water Scheme supplylast night as the system struggles to deal with increased demand. Today (Tuesday) Irish Water extended the restrictions to cover both the Louisburgh and Kiltimagh water supplies. It is hoped that these restrictions will allow the reservoir levels to replenish. Yesterday, water supplies in Ballinrobe were disrupted to allow repairs to a burst water main in the town, while a similar water outage was caused in the Belmullet region due to a burst water mains.
A conserve-water appeal has been in place in Co Mayo since Friday. “Irish Water is appealing to any customers with external taps to ensure that these are securely turned off as we try to protect the levels of our reservoirs and secure drinking water for local communities. A continuous flow from an external tap over a 24-hour period could use the equivalent of the daily water usage of 40 households.
“Irish Water is urging customers to conserve water by turning off taps in properties and farm buildings, not running dishwashers or washing machines where possible, and taking showers instead of baths,” the company spokesperson stated.
While the county escaped the worst of ‘The Beast from the East’ and Storm Emma’s ‘weather bomb’, the low temperatures’ impact on water supplies still caused much hardship for farmers.
“The weather is making things extremely difficult and dangerous for farmers, but the biggest concern at the moment is water. Even if farmers have cattle and sheep inside, a lot of pipes are frozen and they can’t get water to them,” explained Padraic Joyce, the IFA Connacht Regional Chairman.

Staff shortage
Meanwhile, a Mayo County Councillor has warned that the shortage of outdoor staff may leave the county vulnerable when it comes to future severe-weather events.
The role of the outdoor staff in keeping the roads around the county open during the recent cold spell was praised by Chief Executive Peter Hynes and by councillors at yesterday’s monthly meeting of Mayo County Council.
While praising the Council executive and the staff for their forward planning, Cllr Gerry Murray said there were health and safety issues surrounding the low numbers of outdoor staff available on the ground.
“I am conscious that our outdoor staffing levels are at a critical level and they need to be addressed. Around 250 people have retired since 2008 and have not been replaced. They were to the forefront of the storm and snow, and if it occurs again this local authority has a very serious challenge on its hands,” said Cllr Murray.
Mr Hynes concluded by saying an operations review of the council’s response would be carried out in order to identify any improvements that could be made.