Monday 25 September 2017

City is 'lurching from one water crisis to another'

Cautious: Owen Keegan
Cautious: Owen Keegan

Clare Louise Cullen and Paul Melia

DUBLIN is "lurching" from one water crisis to the next, it was claimed last night.

As the city manager confirmed that restrictions affecting 1.5m people will be lifted on Thursday, councillors hit out at officials for their "lack of communication".

At a sometimes heated meeting of Dublin City Council, city manager Owen Keegan said there was still some way to go despite levels at the regional treated water storage plant increasing slightly.

He explained: "Water storage levels across the region have stabilised, with some increase over the last two days.

"However, they are still well below the levels that would be normally considered prudent at this time of year, especially coming into the winter months.

"It is also important to note that the regional demand will increase this week after the conclusion of the mid-term break."

His comments came after Environment Minister Phil Hogan visited the troubled Ballymore Eustace treatment plant in Co Kildare yesterday.

Production has increased from 201m litres a day to 250m litres, but the supply is still 50m litres short of meeting demand.

Engineers and experts from the UK were confident the problem had been identified, Mr Hogan said.

He added: "It seems the chemicals and characteristics of the water supply were not sufficient to deal with the impurities that would be in the water. The quality wasn't correct.

"If progress continues, we can be confident about Thursday but the engineers are being cautious.

"This is a very difficult problem for the restaurant and hotel business in particular.

"This was unforeseen -- it happened out of the blue."

But City Council members expressed concerns about a "clustering of these events".

Staffing

Labour Councillor Padraig McLoughlin said that the water shortage crises in the capital seemed to occur around public holidays, noting that the last one was at Easter.

He added: "I'd like verification that this isn't due to staffing issues at public holidays."

Fianna Fail Councillor Paul McAuliffe argued that water management seemed to "lurch from one crisis to another" and that steps need to be taken to identify a new source for the capital.

He said: "We can fudge around all the operational issues, but really until we identify a new source of water, we are not going to be able to deliver water to the city."

Nightly cut-offs have been in place since last week between 8pm and 7am in Dublin and parts of Wicklow, Kildare and Meath which has resulted in some businesses in the hospitality sector being forced to close.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland said at least two of its 400 members had no option but to turn away customers.

Chief executive Adrian Cummins criticised council officials for failing to keep them informed.

He said: "My members are asking should they stop paying their water charges, or a portion of their charges, and there's no crisis management in place."

hnews@herald.ie

Herald

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