The general public – including farmers – has been encouraged to conserve water where possible this week, due to the prolonged spell of fine weather forecast by Met Eireann.

Farmers are advised to carry out regular visual checks along the private pipework on their farms in order to detect leaks.

Unusually damp ground, where vegetation is lusher than expected is a sign of a recent leak – while reduced community or rush vegetation is a consequence of a long-term leak, according to Irish Water.

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Another way to identify possible leaks is to regularly check all water meters, including remote ones, the company added.

Farmers are encouraged to carry out ‘night flow’ tests by taking readings over a set period of time when water usage should be low, and all water using appliances have been switched off. If the night usage is unusually high or the counter is still running when everything is turned off, a leak may be the cause.

Farmers can then keep track of usage and potential leaks by completing these flow tests on a regular basis.

Remedial work

In a statement, Irish Water said: “If you suspect that you may have a leak on your pipework, you can shut off sections of your network to assess the change in flow. Wet drains after a period without rain can indicate blockages or water from a leak may be flowing into them.

Overflowing drinking troughs and incorrectly set or damaged ball valves can waste significant amounts of water. Adjust the ball valves to lower the float or replace faulty parts.

“Meanwhile, remember to fix dripping taps and hosepipes around the farm promptly by replacing washers and fix overflows to avoid water wastage,” it said.

The higher the water pressure, the more water is wasted when a leak develops, the company added. Because of this, farmers are encouraged to use control valves – where possible – at strategic points across their water network.

As well as this, farmers are reminded not to leave taps and hosepipes unattended when running;  automatic shut-off valves were cited as one option that farmers could also consider.