Major water shortage concerns as thaw expected

Water supplies are running dangerously low as running taps and burst pipes play havoc with the water system during the ongoing cold snap.

Water supplies are running dangerously low as running taps and burst pipes play havoc with the water system during the ongoing cold snap.

There are also serious concerns for the county's roads with the expected thaw creating "sheets" of black ice as night time temperatures remain as low as -9c.

Joe Peoples, acting director of Water, Environment and Emergency Services for Donegal County Council, said they are being forced to swich off water in a number of parts of the county as reseviours stuggle to meet demand. The main areas are on the Lough Mourne supply and in the Gweedore area.

"We have been very active in trying to conserve water supplies over the last seven days or thereabouts. Where we have restrictions in place over the weekend from a couple of supplies in the east of the county and one in the west of the county. We are restricting between 10pm and 8am," he stated

He said it was important for people to remember that they have the provision for water storage and it will only be their cold tap water they will be unable to use at night.

He says due to the large water supply network across rural areas they are also facing the prospect of even more burst pipe after the thaw sets in and they would be relying on "community intervention" in reporting these leaks.

Senior Roads Engineer, Michael McGarvery, says they were not expecting fresh snow in the next 24 hours but black ice is a constant concern on the county's roads

"Just because there is a thaw being talked about that's when we would actually say that if anything, in some cases, the risk has increased because the public awareness may not be as high," he stated.

John McLaughlin, council director of services for roads and transportation, said the council had received another 400 tonnes of road salt on Tuesday from the NRA, and was due to receive another 270 tonnes yesterday.

Donegal County Council lorries are spreading about 200 tonnes of salt per day on the county roads that councillors have prioritised.

Donegal Mountain Rescue team have reported a busy week with 15 call outs since last Saturday.

They have been called by the HSE a number of times in recent days to assist with a range of tasks including helping a senior citizen to a care home and deliver medical supplies and food parcels to a number of others who have been stranded due to impassable roads.

PRO of the group, Catherine Strain, says they have been so active this week that one of their four wheel drive vehicles broke down after spending many hours touring the dangerous roads around the county.

"We had 15 call outs within four days. They were on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Monday was our busiest day. Most of them were assisting the HSE getting nurses out to attend patients living in remote areas to give medical treatment. Some of them were for delivering medicine and one was to deliver a food parcel to a woman who was unable to get out of her house," she said.

Despite the treacherous road conditions most travel services in and out of the county have been able to continue over the last week. Local services have been affected by the closure of a number of roads but the main routes front he county have been passable.

Bus Eireann say services around the country were operating as per normal with some delays and Donegal Airport say they have been able to keep the airport open all week and keep flights on schedule.

Those aiming to travel via the west Donegal Airport in Carrickfin are advised to keep up to date with road closures as both the Meenaroy and back of Errigal roads have been subject to closure during the week.