Hose pipe ban and water shortages ‘We’re all out enjoying the weather, it’s fantastic but it’s creating real challenges.’

As heard on Today with Sean O'Rourke

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In the shock move by Mother Nature that, let’s face it, very few of us saw coming, water in Ireland has now become a scarce and valuable resource.  With a hosepipe ban now in place in the Greater Dublin Area, it’s time to take shorter showers, squeeze the last few plates into the dishwasher and retire the Child of Prague statue for the time being.  On her first day sitting in for Sean O’Rourke on the Today programme, Miriam O’Callaghan spoke to a number of people around the country about the impact of the water shortages and the ban.  Paul Melia, Environment Editor of the Irish Independent, said about 1.5 million people are now affected by the ban but warns that if we don’t work together to conserve water, we risk being cut off in the future.

“The first thing it’s asking you to do is to conserve water so that’s check that your house doesn’t have any leaks, spend less time in the shower, don’t take baths, use appliances when they’re full, don’t let the tap run… don’t use a hosepipe to water the garden, to wash your car, to fill paddling pools or anything like that.  You can do all of these things with a watering can or a bucket that you fill from the sink.”

Paul warned that if we don’t pull up our socks and turn off our taps, the people on the outskirts of the pipes and the edges of the network will be affected by water restrictions over time.

Potato and vegetable farmer Eddie Doyle spoke to Miriam about the profound challenges his sector is facing.

“We have a few hundred veg and potato growers in the country and I’d say all are under serious pressure for keeping their crops alive and growing and I suppose it’s a matter of make or break…  If you lose that crop, you face financial ruin in reality.”

Eddie said that even if farmers do manage to get crops to supermarkets, lack of water means they will have certain imperfections like blemishes and while they are perfect for consumption, they won’t be accepted so the lack of proper irrigation systems puts farmers under ferocious stress.

“There is loads of water in the country, we’re only dry for five or six weeks, after all, it’s just the management of the whole thing, that’s where the problem comes in.”

Brian Mar of The Garden House in Malahide gave Miriam helpful tips for keeping domestic plants alive during the heat wave.

“We put trays underneath all the plants so as to minimize the water we’re using and plants work better anyway in water from underneath than from the top…  Save the water from when you’re cooking the vegetables and water them at night time with that…  You can use the watering can as opposed to the hose, water at night time and don’t water the foliage, water the base of the plant so that it actually gets down to where the roots are.”

Finally, Miriam spoke with the Green Party’s Local Government Spokesperson, Cllr Malcolm Noonan who described the current water shortage as “almost a perfect storm”.

“We have a doubling of the national herd, we’ve got increased output on dairy and beef, industry demanding more, tourism demanding more and a general population increase…  We’re in a crisis situation with our water and I do think that if we had a fair metered watering regime in place, we’d be able to monitor usage, we’ve been able to penalise people for excessive usage and we’d be able to incentivize conservation…  I think certainly we’re all out enjoying the weather, it’s fantastic but it’s creating real challenges.”

Click here to listen to Today with Miriam O’Callaghan.

© The Listener 2018

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