Tidy Towns tries to cope with wa­ter re­stric­tions

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - NEWS -

WHILE the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple have thor­oughly en­joyed fir­ing up the bar­beque and spend­ing as much time as pos­si­ble out­doors dur­ing the heat­wave, oth­ers have found the dry con­di­tions a con­sid­er­able ob­sta­cle.

Preparations for the Tidy Towns judg­ing have proved par­tic­u­larly prob­lem­atic, es­pe­cially now a hosepipe ban is in place. Some Tidy Towns groups have had to come up with new meth­ods of wa­ter­ing flow­ers and plants which won’t break the na­tion­wide wa­ter con­ser­va­tion or­der cur­rently in place.

Gle­nealy Tidy Towns held a meet­ing in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a hosepipe ban and chair­man Paddy Staunton came up with an in­ge­nious way of wa­ter­ing plants with­out us­ing the pub­lic sup­ply.

‘We knew there wouldn’t be any rain for the next few weeks so Paddy came up with a great idea,’ ex­plained fel­low Gle­nealy Tidy Towns mem­ber Anne Ho­gan. ‘We got a 1,000 litre tank and Paddy fills it up from the river at Deputy’s Pass. We hired a petrol driven lift pump from Wick­low Hire to pump the wa­ter into the tank. Paddy then keeps an eye on the tank and re­fills it where nec­es­sary. He has a smaller tank on the back of his truck and we fill that up and travel around wa­ter­ing all the plants and flow­ers.’

It was im­por­tant for the Gle­nealy vol­un­teers to come up with a so­lu­tion to the wa­ter re­stric­tions given the in­vest­ment they made this year on new plants.

‘We spent a lot of money on flow­ers this year so we couldn’t af­ford to lose them. It would have been a dis­as­ter for them to die’ added Anne.

Aughrim Tidy Towns also had to think out­side-the-box in or­der to beat the drought, with par­tic­u­lar con­cerns over the bowl­ing alley and how it would cope with the se­vere con­di­tions.

‘We are lucky there is a fish­ing lake right be­side the bowl­ing green so we are able to pump wa­ter to main­tain the green. We use a wa­ter bowser pump which has an en­gine on it. It pumps the wa­ter up to fill the tank. We can also source some wa­ter for the flow­ers from there as well. We haven’t been us­ing any pub­lic wa­ter sup­plies,’ said Bernard Keat­ing, chair­man of Aughrim Tidy Towns.

Mary-Anne Par­sons of Bray Tidy Towns ac­knowl­edges that the hot weather has pre­sented plenty of chal­lenges and led to some hard de­ci­sions. ‘The weather has been a big is­sue. We re­alise the sit­u­a­tion is very bad re­gard­ing the con­ser­va­tion of wa­ter so we had to make a call. We took the ap­proach that sadly there wasn’t much we could do for the plants. The chances are we might lose some plants. We haven’t used any Ir­ish Wa­ter sources. Some mem­bers have wa­ter butts on their pri­vate prop­erty which has helped.’

A cou­ple of years ago, Bray Tidy Towns adopted a pol­icy of plant­ing low main­te­nance plants which are durable against all sorts of weather con­di­tions.

‘We put more of a fo­cus on plants which can sur­vive for nu­mer­ous years what­ever the weather,’ said Mary-Anne. ‘Some ar­eas are look­ing very burnt but we are con­fi­dent they will come back with a bit of rain. Our box hedg­ing hasn’t done so well but that was all do­nated to use from some­one so no money has been lost. It has been a bit of a strug­gle but we to­tally un­der­stand the need to con­serve wa­ter.’

Bless­ing­ton Tidy Towns have en­coun­tered dif­fi­cul­ties of their own due to the heat­wave.

Noreen Kee­gan Ka­vanagh said: ‘The weather has def­i­nitely im­pacted on our work. We couldn’t use hoses so we have been us­ing wa­ter­ing cans in­stead. It takes a lot of man power to get things wa­tered and it re­ally isn’t an even play­ing field. In the likes of Naas and New­bridge you have County Coun­cil out­door staff plant­ing and main­tain­ing the flow­ers and plants. Here we are do­ing it all on our own.’

A pos­si­ble re­think of what sort of flow­ers to plant may now be con­sid­ered.

‘We will have to look at our op­tions, such as ar­ti­fi­cial plants or ones that don’t re­quire much wa­ter­ing or main­te­nance. Then again it is strange to have this sort of pro­longed weather. For all we know this time next year it could be lash­ing rain,’ added Noreen.

Nils Lignell, Jenny Balfe, Anne Ho­gan, Veron­ica Doyle, Pat Sweeney and Pat Staunton of Gle­nealy Tidy Towns with the wa­ter tank in the car park.

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