Tuesday 12 November 2019

'How long is a piece of string?' - Irish Water unsure when boil notice will be lifted for 600,000 people

Clear water: Patricia Dillon from Howth buys up bottles at SuperValu, Sutton Cross during last boil water notice
Clear water: Patricia Dillon from Howth buys up bottles at SuperValu, Sutton Cross during last boil water notice
Aoife Walsh

Aoife Walsh

IRISH Water has said they can't give "any guarantees" on how long it will take to lift the latest boil water notice that is in place.

The company issued a boil water notice to more than 600,000 people for the second time in a fortnight due to fresh problems at the Leixlip Water Treatment Plant shortly after 6pm on Monday.

Irish Water has blamed the heavy rain for the latest notice, saying it has impacted the quality of drinking water in Dublin, Kildare and Meath.

A spokesperson for Irish Water told Independent.ie that estimating how long it will take to lift the ban is like asking "how long is a piece of string".

"We still have to agree the criteria with the HSE and the EPA for removing the boil water notice, which we expect will be similar to how it was last month so that there has to be satisfactory samples from the plant, the EPA have to be confident that the plant is operating satisfactory and that the network has been flushed of any water that could possibly be below par," the spokesperson said.

"The notice will be in place until we can demonstrate the water is safe to drink. We wouldn't give any guarantees on how long that will take, it's a bit of a how long is a piece of string, but they're doing everything they can."

Irish Water managing director, Niall Gleeson said that the plant will need "a number of days" to take samples from the plant before the notice can be lifted.

"Right now we're working with the EPA and the HSE to work to agree a criteria to agree for lifting this boil water notice. Last night the turbidity or cloudiness levels on the plant were dropping but they're still not meeting the criteria that we need.

"We also were taking samples from the plant to make sure that there's no giardia or cryptosporidium coming through and we did that previously and we hadn't that in the last instance," he told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.

"We certainly need two or three samples so that would take a number of days, so we are talking days."

He explained the incident is occurring at an older water plant that is in the process of being refurbished.

"In Leixlip we have two plants, one is an old plant that was built about 40 years ago and a new plant that was built in 2014. It's the old plant that's giving us the problem.

"We are in the process of refurbishing that plant, but that plant supplies about 20 pc of the water to Dublin. While we are refurbishing, we can't take it out of service. Ideally, we'd just shut the plant down for 6 to 12 months take it out of service then do all these refurbishing works, but because it's such a critical part of the Dublin water supply we have to keep it in operation."

He continued: "The circumstances are quite different, the first issue was related to operational issues. The second issue the operators caught the problem, and we purposely shut down the plant because of these water quality issues, the cloudiness of the water coming through," he added.

"We had to make the decision yesterday that because our reservoirs were dropping so low and because the water supply had dropped, we had the choice of either restricting water to customers and then we wouldn't have water for flushing toilets or having showers or introducing this water where we have issues around the quality."

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News