Tidy Towns tries to cope with water restrictions
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.