The Reykjanes peninsula experienced a volcanic eruption that led to a hot water outage across Suðurnes since noon yesterday. Efforts are underway to establish an auxiliary water pipeline to restore hot water, with residents and critical facilities like nursing homes receiving emergency heaters in the meantime.
Suðurnes without hot water since noon yesterday
Following a volcanic eruption that began on the Reykjanes peninsula at 6 AM yesterday, lava eventually flowed over and breached the so-called Njarðvíkur conduit, a pipeline that transports hot water from the Svartsengi geothermal power plant to the towns in Suðurnes: Vogar, Reykjanesbær, Garður, Sandgerði, and Grindavík.
Shortly after noon, the utility company HS Veitur reported that a hot-water outage had occurred in the upper areas of the Reykjanesbær municipality and the towns of Sandgerði and Garður. The rest of Suðurnes soon followed. Residents were urged to lower the temperature in their homes to extend the availability of hot water as long as possible.
In response to the hot-water outage, many also waited in long lines to buy electric radiators, gas tanks, and heater fans. Several schools in the area were closed, and the Keflavík International Airport was likewise without hot water.
Working to connect an auxiliary pipeline
As soon as it was clear that the pipeline had been damaged, a group of workers began working on welding bypass connections to a new auxiliary water pipeline to compensate for the old Njarðvík conduit. This group of workers included welders, plumbers, excavation workers, and more. Although the night was uneventful regarding the eruption itself — it could conclude as early as today or the weekend — efforts to connect the new auxiliary pipeline were in full swing.
In an interview with RÚV this morning, Hjördís Guðmundsdóttir, Communication Manager with the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, stated that work on the new pipeline was progressing well.
As noted by RÚV, the civil protection authorities purchased heaters for those who couldn’t do so themselves, such as for nursing homes and hospitals: “The approximately 100 heaters that were purchased were delivered to operation control in Suðurnes to be distributed to those who could not secure such items for themselves,” Hjördís remarked. “They have been very useful, especially at the Nesvellir and Hlíðarvangur nursing homes. We have also ordered a large quantity of heaters, which will arrive in the country today.”
The foremost priority of the civil protection authorities is to restore heat. Hjördís emphasised, however, that this process could take some time, assuring residents that the authorities would continually update residents on the progress: “As we have already noted, even though the auxiliary pipeline is connected, it will take time to restore heat to the system. So, it will remain cold today, but we hope that the process will proceed quickly and securely.”