Wednesday 22 March 2017

Irish Water and Red Cross on standby as confusion reigns over water supply

Greg Harkin

Aerial view of Athlone town. Photo: Peter Barrow
Aerial view of Athlone town. Photo: Peter Barrow

Irish Water and the Red Cross are both on standby as confusion reigns over who is supposed to supply emergency drinking water to flood victims.

Irish Water is responsible for ensuring homeowners have water if their mains supply become contaminated.

Yet the Red Cross has been handing out bottled drinking water in Kilconnell, Co Galway, after flood waters hit the area in mid-November.

And the charity has moved bottled water to Portumna, Limerick and Athlone in case it was needed there over the coming days as further flood warnings were in place along the Shannon. Tipperary Water has donated the bottled water to the charity. "These supplies are in place as a precaution," said a spokesman.

The Red Cross has also sent some vehicles to areas affected by floods. A four-wheel drive ambulance from Laois Red Cross has been relocated to Athlone.

Irish Water said the company would remain on standby with water tankers if other water-treatment plants were taken out of action by floods.

"Irish Water provides tankered water in areas where water outages occur. In areas where boil water notices are in place, providing tankered water is of no value as water coming out of tankers also needs to be boiled," the utility said.

"Irish Water immediately alerts people if a boil water notice has been imposed on their supply.

"When a boil water notice is in place, people can still use water for bathing and flushing toilets but must boil the water before drinking or using for food preparation."

The public utility has been pumping water from neighbouring counties to provide water to 6,000 people in Bundoran after the Co Donegal town's water-treatment plant was shut down due to flooding at the weekend.

The company has said it doesn't know how long it will remain out of action and that it is dealing with 83 other separate incidents at other water-treatment plants.

However, Bundoran is the worst affected by the weather.

"A clean-up operation is under way in Bundoran and we are assessing the damage to the treatment plant which has been caused by flood waters," said a spokeswoman.

Northern Ireland Water has been supplying water from Fermanagh to help alleviate the crisis. Nevertheless, supply is being disrupted across a wide area, including in Loughside, Co Leitrim.

Customers may experience low pressure or loss of supply over the coming days. Tankers have been located in five areas but less than 20 customers have needed to use them so far.

Water taken from tankers and the standpipe, whilst fully treated and safe to drink, must be boiled before use as a precautionary measure.

Irish Independent

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