Water supplies under threat

July 9th, 2018 7:10 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Hosepipe watering ban now in place.

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EXTREME weather conditions have threatened the Clonakilty Regional Water Supply Scheme, which supplies 16,000 people as well as industry, with serious concerns that Bantry could be hit next.

Neil Smyth, the asset operations regional lead with Irish Water, confirmed that about 600,000 litres of water per day are being transported from a mains supply, adjacent to Skibbereen Fire Station, to Clonakilty, to help fill the reservoirs on the Clonakilty Regional Water Supply Scheme.

Mr Smyth said that the supply stretches to Rosscarbery and out to Courtmacsherry. The Clonakilty supply is fed by the Argideen River and that is currently ‘running very low’.

‘While we have made intervention in the channel to support abstraction from the river, and to produce drinking water, at-capacity demand in the network is outstripping supply by about 15%. We just can’t keep up,’ said Mr Smyth.

He confirmed that the decision to run tankers to Clonakilty will continue for the foreseeable future and that the reason it is being taken from Skibbereen is that the Skibbereen public supply currently has ‘sufficient water.’ 

He said that throughout West Cork, the situation is being constantly watched. ‘We are monitoring where we are taking water from to make sure that it is sustainable … and there are concerns with regard to the Bantry water supply. The supply there is dropping, which makes Bantry the next scheme at risk,’ he said. 

A Water Conservation Management Group has been set up by the County Council to manage the potential emergency and monitor the situation. 

A national hosepipe ban comes into effect from Friday but from  Wednesday, night-time restrictions were imposed on the Inniscarra, Clonakilty and Kilbrin water supplies in Cork, from 11pm until 7am.

Crookhaven Goleen, Schull, Cahernacrin, Derryginagh, Minane, Nohoval and Roberts Cove water supplies were classified as ‘at-risk’ and customers supplied from these schemes were asked by Irish Water to be especially mindful of their water consumption. 

Meanwhile, the extended period of warm and dry weather has pushed already under-pressure dairy and tillage farmers to financial crisis point. 

The average farmer is paying out at least €700 a month for ration as grass growth is at a minimum – and with conditions deteriorating rapidly, that figure is set to increase. 

Of greater concern is the dire situation facing tillage farmers with crops of barley and beet already looking to be in serious trouble. 

Teagasc has set up a helpline for farmers on 087-7971377 and will hold an advice clinic at Bandon Mart at 11am next Monday.

Meanwhile, Skibbereen, Bantry and Schull fire departments have been dealing with a number of fires caused by discarded rubbish, particularly glass. Schull Station Officer, Paul O’Brien, said they were called to a fire at Lissagriffin near Barleycove and a fire at the entrance to the forestry at Sparragrada, where people had burned copper cables, while Bantry Fire Brigade dealt with fires in Kealkil and at the Goat’s Path.

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