Monday 23 October 2017

Water cuts could end by Thursday, Hogan predicts

Environment Minister Phil Hogan at a press conference in Naas, Co Kildare, yesterday where he gave an update on the water treatment crisis in Dublin
Environment Minister Phil Hogan at a press conference in Naas, Co Kildare, yesterday where he gave an update on the water treatment crisis in Dublin
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

WATER restrictions which have affected 1.5 million people and thousands of businesses should be lifted by Thursday.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan said he was optimistic engineers had identified the source of the problem and put in place an effective treatment which would restore supplies in two days.

But a heated city council meeting heard accusations that the city is simply "lurching" from one water crisis to the next.

City manager Owen Keegan said that despite the regional treated water storage increasing slightly, there was still "some way to go" before the water levels reached the high levels Dubliners are used to.

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

Fianna Fail councillor Paul McAuliffe argued that water management seemed to "lurch from one crisis to another" and that steps should be taken to identify a new source of water for the city.

The meeting came hours after the Environment Minister toured the Ballymore-Eustace treatment plant in Co Kildare where the problem arose last week.

Mr Hogan said the amount of water being successfully treated had increased.

Production had increased from 201 million litres a day to 250 million litres, but was still 50 million litres short to meet demand.

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

"They demonstrated the ongoing work taking place to identify a resolution to the problem that has caused a water shortage," he said.

"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.

"I hope they are in a position to lift restrictions this week but they are being cautious. There's a confidence that these solutions being deployed will be successful.

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

INFORMED

Nightly shut-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 been forced to turn away customers.

Chief executive Adrian Cummins criticised the council for failing to keep its members informed.

"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," he said.

"Everyone is in a very difficult position and some have been forced to close."

Mr Hogan added that the council had learnt to inform people "in advance" about restrictions.

Irish Independent

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