Met Eireann has issued a weather warning as ‘wintry falls’ and temperatures as low as -2C are forecast for this weekend.
A status yellow wind warning has been issued for counties Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Sligo, Clare, Cork and Kerry and will be valid from 6pm on Thursday to 9am on Friday. Mean wind speeds of 50 to 65km/h and gusts of 80 to 110km/h are expected.
Met Eireann has also warned that temperatures are forecast to drop to zero degrees on Friday night with wintry showers and frost.
On Saturday, temperatures are expected to further drop to -2C with brisk westerly winds and wintry showers. This will lead to a frosty start on Sunday morning with lingering ice in places.
Tom Cuddy, of Irish Water’s asset operations, said prolonged frost could lead to more water shortages in the Dublin area.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Cuddy appealed to people and businesses in the capital to conserve water coming up to the festive period.
It comes after 600,000 people were last month left with a boil water notice, on two separate occasions, resulting from problems with water quality at the plant.
While the semi-State works to address the issues at the plant, its capacity has been reduced, causing serious problems for the network.
“Essentially in the Greater Dublin area the supply and demand balance for drinking water is on the line.
“Our production capacity has reduced somewhat and there’s an inexorable increase in demand from households and from businesses as we come through the winter,” he said.
“This is a narrowing gap – the headroom between what we can produce and what’s demanded – and that has narrowed even further this year.
“In particular our production capacity has been reduced because we have constrictions at some of our treatment plants, in particular Leixlip.”
He said the semi-State was keen to raise people’s awareness about the issue.
“It’s very important that people are aware that they conserve water where they can, that they check their plumbing and that they report leaks,” he said.
The works at the Leixlip plant are not scheduled to be completed until next year.
Mr Cuddy said it was a rolling issue, “an enduring situation” that will go on for a number of months.
He said the other plants were at their maximum capacity to make up for the shortfall, while Irish Water was also repairing 1,500 leaks a month.
“There are the obvious winter challenges of cold weather. There’s also an increase in demand in customer use, particularly in businesses,” he said. He added the situation was “right on the line” but “stable” at the moment with no headroom in the event of sharp and prolonged frost.
According to Irish Water the current increase in demand is higher than any previous year and is 10 million litres a day, which, it said, was enough water to fill Liberty Hall and higher than this time last year.
It has appealed to people to conserve water through measures like turning off the tap while brushing teeth and shaving, which can save up to six litres of water per minute.
Irish Water has been upgrading the Vartry Water Supply Scheme by building a new treatment plant,
It has also upgraded the treated water reservoir at Stillorgan, representing an investment of approximately €200m.
“These upgrades are due to be completed in 2020,” it said, adding that at Leixlip Water Treatment Plant the old section of the plant is currently being upgraded on a phased basis.
The last boil water notice affected people in Dublin, Kildare and Meath for eight days.
It resulted from heavy rainfall washing amounts of organic matter into reservoirs.
This increased the turbidity (cloudiness) of the source water above acceptable levels.