Boil-water notices for 250,000 homes
Almost 250,000 homes face possible boil-water notices as Irish Water warns that more than half its drinking water treatment plants are at risk of failure.
The utility says that 472 plants pose a risk, with some operating above capacity and others having no alarms to warn of problems, or drawing water from poor-quality sources.
The Irish Independent has learned that stringent new quality guidelines mean that water is now tested up to six times a year, and that Irish Water intends to shut down plants and issue boil-water notices if a problem emerges.
This is unlike the system operated in the past, where boil-water notices were implemented after water was found to have failed to meet quality standards and posed a risk to human health.
"It is possible that more boil-water notices will have to be issued, even in places where no problem appears to exist today," a spokeswoman said.
"We're now finding problems which existed before, but were never picked up. We believe about half of the plants are not capable of dealing with all conditions for the raw water they are treating."
The warning comes as Fianna Fáil last night stood over its pledge to abolish water charges - despite Irish Water saying it has legal advice that such a move is in conflict with EU law.
The party's Public Expenditure spokesman, Seán Fleming, said his party "absolutely contests" that legal advice.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael continued talks with Independent TDs, with sources at the meeting saying those involved in the negotiations are "far from forming a government".