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One million homes at 'significant risk from contaminated drinking water'

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A boil notice continues in Williamstown Co. Galway where Courtney and Amy Caulfield have to boil the kettle to brush their teeth.
Photo:Andrew Downes

A boil notice continues in Williamstown Co. Galway where Courtney and Amy Caulfield have to boil the kettle to brush their teeth. Photo:Andrew Downes

Andrew Downes

More water protests are expected to take place at the weekend

More water protests are expected to take place at the weekend

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A boil notice continues in Williamstown Co. Galway where Courtney and Amy Caulfield have to boil the kettle to brush their teeth. Photo:Andrew Downes

DRINKING water for almost a million households is at risk of contamination because of “serious problems” in supplies.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says there is “significant risk” of safety issues at plants struggling to provide safe water across the State. Among the main problems are  a lack of proper management at treatment plants, with improvements to disinfection systems to remove dangerous bugs, including E-coli and cryptosporidium, also needed.

In addition, investment in “robust and resilient” infrastructure is required. The EPA also said that lead mains pipes across the network must be replaced as a matter of urgency.

It is believed that as many as 140,000 households are at risk of lead contamination, which is of particular concern for babies.

The agency’s ‘Drinking Water Report 2013’ says that while overall compliance rates are good, there are 121 “at-risk” supplies in need of investment.

It says that 30 plants in Kerry need urgent upgrades, along with 13 in Wicklow, 11 in Roscommon and 10 each in Donegal and Galway.

The EPA’s Director of Environmental Enforcement, Gerard O’Leary, said the compliance rates masked profound problems in the system.

“Overall, the compliance rate in public supplies is good but this masks the specific and serious problems occurring in some supplies and the significant risk of future problems,” he said.

“Investment is needed to improve the supplies where people cannot use their water and to reduce the risk of other supplies failing to meet the required quality standards in the future.”

The report covers the last year for which local authorities were responsible for the water network. It has since been taken over by Irish Water.

Among the key findings were:

• More than 99pc of water samples taken from public supplies complied with the standards.

• In 2013, some 40 boil water notices and four water restrictions were issued.

• E-coli was detected at least once in 10 supplies, compared with seven supplies the previous year. For private supplies, E-coli was detected at least once in 95 plants.

• A total of 140 supplies serving almost one million people are in need of upgrades. Of these, 21 will not be completed until after 2016.

• More than half of the 978 public water supplies audited required improvements to their disinfection systems.

• Overall water quality in group schemes remains “inferior” to the public system.

• In total, standards were breached 429 times.

The EPA said that Irish Water’s priorities should include removing and preventing boil water notices, implementing a national lead strategy to deal with the issue and prioritising plants for investment.

It must also develop drinking water safety plans to protect water sources.

“The underlying causes of problems need to be addressed with improvements in disinfection systems, removal of lead pipes, improvements in water treatment management and by putting in place appropriate infrastructure to prevent future long-term restrictions,” David Flynn from the EPA said.

Irish Water expects to spend some €1.8m until the end of 2016 upgrading the system, but has warned that €500m a year is needed for the next decade to bring the network in line with best international practice.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly said the problems highlighted were “not acceptable”.

“This report demonstrates why we have needed to radically rethink how we have been carrying out our water investment to date,” he said.

Complicated

“Quite simply, boil water notices and other problems have come about through years of underinvestment. The problems the report highlights are not acceptable in a modern economy.”

The EPA says that as many as 250,000 jobs are in water intensive industries, but that  providing clean and safe water is complicated by the sheer number of plants.

There are some 3,831 public and private supplies, with 978 public plants – this compares with 298 in Scotland, which has a similar population.

The report comes after the EPA warned last month that “significant improvements” were needed to upgrade wastewater treatment plants.

In 38 areas, no treatment whatsoever was provided.

CavanPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Kingscourt1,925Treatment plant to be upgraded.Mar-17
CorkPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Drimoleague400Abandon treatment plant and connect to Skibbereen WTWNO DATE GIVEN
Kealkill150Upgrade treatment plant to provide upgraded disinfection system and filtersNO DATE GIVEN
Schull2,000Upgrade water treatment plant to include an additional filter and the installation of ozone treatmentComplete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
Cork City Water Supply123,000Upgrade of treatment plantNO DATE GIVEN
DonegalPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Cashilard 400Abandon source and replace the supply with the Ballyshannon WSDec-18
Cresslough4000Upgrade of disinfection systemDec-18
Fintown310Upgrade of water treatment plantDec-18
Glenties-Ardara4,500Abandon source and replace with supply from the Leitermacaward WSDec-18
Gortahork-Falcarragh 5,000Upgrade of water treatment plantDec-17
Greencastle 807Abandon source and replace with supply from the East Inishowen WSDec-17
Owenteskna/Kilcar2,000Upgrade of water treatment plantDec-17
Letterkenny19,500Upgrade of water treatment plant to include barrier for Cryptosporidium removal Dec-18
Portnoo-Narin 941Upgrad of water treatment plantDec-18
Rathmullen 2,050Upgrade of water treatment plantJun-15
DublinPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Ballyboden37500Improve operations at the plant and covering of the reservoir at BallybodenNO DATE GIVEN
Ballymore Eustace-Leixlip & Vartry/Ballymore Eustace16000Replacement of Callow Hill Tunnel, use of covered storage reservoir and upgrade of disinfection system.Aug-15
Vartry-Ballymore Eustace130000Replacement of Callow Hill Tunnel, use of covered storage reservoir and upgrade of disinfection system.Aug-15
DL RathdownPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Stillorgan33250Replacement of Callow Hill Tunnel, use of covered storage reservoir and upgrade of disinfection system.Aug-15
Roundwood49000Replacement of Callow Hill Tunnel, use of covered storage reservoir and upgrade of disinfection system.Dec-15
Church Road40600Replacement of Callow Hill Tunnel, use of covered storage reservoir and upgrade of disinfection system.Aug-15
GalwayPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Ballinasloe Rwss6,852Upgrade disinfection, provide chlorine and turbidity monitors and pH correctionNO DATE GIVEN
Ballyconneely P.S.931pH correction, filter upgrade, UV, Chlorine dioxide, upgrade chlorination and provide contact tankComplete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
Carraroe PWS3,875pH correction, ozone, filtration, UV and sodium hypochlorite disinfection and contact tankNov-15
Glenamaddy900Ozone, filtration and UV treatmentRemedial works complete but have not been sufficient to ensure the supply is compliant
Inishere P.S.274Ozone filtration and UV disinfectionComplete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
Kilkerrin/Moylough1,800Upgrade of treatment plant to include effective barrier against CryptosporidiumComplete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
Leenane P.S.100Pre-chlorination, filtration and UV treatmentJun-16
Mid Galway2,083Ozone treatment, filtration and UV treatmentComplete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
Portumna PS1,728Upgrade settlement and coagulation and filters. Install turbidity monitors.Oct-15
Williamstown PS180Ozone treatment, filtration and UV disinfectionRemedial works complete but have not been sufficient to ensure the supply is compliant
KerryPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Ballinskelligs 008H901Upgrade of treatment plant to include slow sand filtrationJun-15
Ballymacadam 402F4,132Upgrade of disinfection systemDec-16
Barraduff 014A406Upgrade of treatment plant to include slow sand filtrationRemedial works complete but have not been sufficient to ensure the supply is compliant
Caherdaniel 019H364Upgrade of treatment plant to include filtration plus coagulation and/or UV.Complete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
Cahirciveen 017H1,725Installation of turbidity monitorsRemedial works complete but have not been sufficient to ensure the supply is compliant
Caragh Lake 022A1,757Upgrade of treatment plant to include slow sand filtrationComplete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
Castlecove 023H353Upgrade of treatment plant to include filtration plus coagulation and/or UV.Complete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
Dromin: Scartleigh(H) 600E0 NO DATE GIVEN
Dromin: Ballybunnion 605E*2130 NO DATE GIVEN
Dromin: Ballyduff 602E*1620 NO DATE GIVEN
Dromin: Ballylongford 603E*690 NO DATE GIVEN
Dromin : Listowel/Moyvane 601E*5770 NO DATE GIVEN
Dromin: Tarmons 604E*230 NO DATE GIVEN
Glen 039H59Upgrade of treatment plant to include filtration plus coagulation and/or UV.Jun-15
Kenmare 045A1,832Upgrade of water treatment plant to include effective barrier for CryptosporidiumJan-17
Kilgarvan 046A327Upgrade of treatment plant to include slow sand filtrationRemedial works complete but have not been sufficient to ensure the supply is compliant
Killsarkin 403F1,363Rechlorination station to be providedDec-16
Lauragh 051A75Upgrade of treatment barrier to provide effective Cryptosporidium barrier (UV)NO DATE GIVEN
Lisarboola 404F13,820Upgrade of water treatment plant including upgrade of disinfection systemDec-16
Lisloose Reservoir3,923Upgrade of water treatment plant to include effective barrier for CryptosporidiumDec-16
Lough Guitane 400F55,848Upgrade of water treatment plant to include effective barrier for CryptosporidiumDec-16
Maulin 066H585Upgrade of water treatment plant to include installation of treatment barrier and upgrade of disinfection systemComplete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
Milltown (Poulgorum)1483Upgrade of water treatment plant to include installation of treatment barrier and upgrade of disinfection systemComplete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
Minard No.1 (Puck Island)258Upgrade of water treatment plant to include installation of treatment barrier and upgrade of disinfection systemComplete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
Mountain Stage 062A1,033Upgrade of treatment plant to include filtration plus coagulation and/or UV.Jun-16
Murreigh Ballydavid 063D450Upgrade of treatment plant to include filtration plus coagulation and/or UV.Complete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
Shrone 078A199Upgrade of treatment plant to include slow sand filtrationRemedial works complete but have not been sufficient to ensure the supply is compliant
Templenoe 073A207Upgrade of treatment barrier to provide effective Cryptosporidium barrier (UV)Jan-17
Ventry 074D500Upgrade of treatment plant to include filtration plus coagulation and/or UV.Remedial works complete but have not been sufficient to ensure the supply is compliant
Waterville 075H842Upgrade of treatment plant to include filtration plus coagulation and/or UV.Remedial works complete but have not been sufficient to ensure the supply is compliant
KilkennyPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Inistioge WS986Abandon source of water supply and replace with new borehole.NO DATE GIVEN
Kilkenny City (Radestown) WS8,625Development of new wellfieldNO DATE GIVEN
LaoisPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Portlaoise22544 NO DATE GIVEN
LeitrimPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
South Leitrim Regional11,000Improve operation of the plant to include improvements to filter managementComplete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
LongfordPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Newtown Cashel516Upgrade of treatment plant to include effective barrier against CryptosporidiumMar-15
LouthPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Staleen25,000Upgrade of water treatment plant to include changes to the chemical dosing and filtration systemNov-16
MayoPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Inishturk 50Upgrade of disinfection systemDec-17
Kilmaine PS607Abandon water source and replace with the Lough Mask Regional WSJan-15
Kiltimagh1,239Improve operations at WTPDec-15
Lough Mask 28,856Upgrade water treatment plant to increase capacityComplete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
MeathPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Ballinaclose200Upgrade of water treatment plant (see Kingscourt, Co. Cavan)Mar-17
East Meath30,000Upgrade of water treatment plant to include changes to the chemical dosing and filtration system (see Staleen, Co. Louth)Nov-16
Kells-Oldcastle8,250Upgrade of water treatment plant to include treatment barrier capable of removing CryptosporidiumNO DATE GIVEN
Navan & MidMeath PWS28,000Improve operation of water treatment plant including implementation of recommendations of EPA auditDec-18
MonaghanPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Carrickmacross3,341Upgrade of water treament plant to include provision of new sources and reservoirComplete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
Lough Egish RWSS6,100Upgrade of water treatment plantComplete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
RoscommonPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Ballyfarnan200Abandon existing source of supply and replace with new borehole as well as upgrading of existing water treatment plant.NO DATE GIVEN
Ballinlough/Loughglynn2500Upgrade water treatment plant as part of new West Roscommon RWSSDec-16
Boyle/Ardcarne1700Upgrade water treatment plant Jan-15
Boyle4300Upgrade water treatment plantJan-15
Castlerea Urban1,800Upgrade water treatment plant as part of new West Roscommon RWSSMar-15
Castlerea Regional2,600Upgrade water treatment plant as part of new West Roscommon RWSS Mar-15
North East RWSS4,800Upgrade of water treatment plant Dec-16
Roscommon Central5500Upgrade of water treatment plantMay-15
SRRWSS - Killeglan10500Upgrade of water treatment plantMay-15
SRRWSS - Lisbrock1000Upgrade of water treatment plantMay-15
North Roscommon Regional Water Supply Scheme5,750Upgrade of water treatment plantDec-17
SligoPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Killaraght Public Water Supply110Upgrade of water treatment plantJan-15
Lough Gill Regional Water Supply3,700Improved operation of treatment plantDec-15
Lough Talt Regional Water Supply9,250New water treatment plant to be constructedJan-17
South Sligo Regional Water Supply592Upgrade of water treatment plantDec-16
South TipperaryPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Burncourt2,038Construction of new water treatment plantMay-16
Carrick-on-Suir (Crotty's Lake)2,500Monitoring is being carried out to determine whether Crotty's late is a low Cryptosporidium risk Jun-15
Carrick-on-Suir [Lingaun River]3,000Upgrade of water treatment plant to include improvements to chemical dosing arrangementsJun-15
Clonmel Poulavanogue5000Abandon source and replace with supply from new Clonmel WSNO DATE GIVEN
Cloran Regional2,500Abandon and replace with new water treatment plantMay-16
Gortnapisha2,500Construction of new water treatment plantMay-16
Graigue1,192Abandon water treatment plant and replace with new Clonmel WSNO DATE GIVEN
Mullenbawn2,500Upgrade of disinfection system and installation of process control equipment (chlorine and turbidity monitors)May-16
WaterfordPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Ballyhane1,000Abandon source of water supply and replace with a new groundwater source NO DATE GIVEN
Colligan60Abandon Spring Source and serve from new GW source in Carrowgarriff.NO DATE GIVEN
Croan Upper*14see South TipperaryDec-15
Inchinleamy100Upgrade of disinfection systemComplete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
Ring/Helvick1,100Abandon and connect to the Dungarvan Supply.Jan-17
Smoorebeg40Upgrade of disinfection systemComplete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
Tallow1,164Upgrade of water treatment plant to include provision of new rapid gravity filtersNO DATE GIVEN
WexfordPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Sow Regional11,800Upgrade of water treatment plantComplete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
WicklowPopulation servedWorks neededProposed date of completion
Arklow Public Supply10,000Treatment plant to be upgraded and recommendations of the EPA audit to be implemented.Jan-15
Aughrim / Annacurra950Treatment plant to be upgraded with the provision of ozone treatment.NO DATE GIVEN
Avoca / Ballinclash Public Supply 950Coagulation plant to be providedComplete but need verification of the effectiveness of the action plan
Enniskerry Public Supply 1,500Replacement of Callow Hill Tunnel and upgrade of disinfection system.Dec-15
Glenealy Public Supply 360Replacement of Callow Hill Tunnel and upgrade of disinfection system.Feb-15
Wicklow Regional Public Supply 12,152Treatment plant to be upgraded to improve chemical dosing system amd improved management of distribution network.NO DATE GIVEN
Windgates / Templecarrig 300Replacement of Callow Hill Tunnel and upgrade of disinfection system.Dec-22
Bray Direct10000Replacement of Callow Hill Tunnel and upgrade of disinfection system.Dec-22
Bray Reservoir20000Replacement of Callow Hill Tunnel and upgrade of disinfection system.Dec-22
Greystones11913Replacement of Callow Hill Tunnel and upgrade of disinfection system.Dec-22
Kilcoole4160Replacement of Callow Hill Tunnel and upgrade of disinfection system.Dec-22
Kilmacanogue400Replacement of Callow Hill Tunnel and upgrade of disinfection system.Dec-22
Newtown Newcastle3500Replacement of Callow Hill Tunnel and upgrade of disinfection system.Dec-22

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