Worms coming out of kitchen tap sparks investigation into Cork water supplies
An audit of the drinking water supply to Cork city was initiated this summer after a consumer complained of worms coming out of a tap.
A report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed worms were also subsequently found in a filter at the Inniscarra water treatment plant, which provides drinking water to more than 131,000 homes in the Cork Harbour area, including the city.
Irish Water informed the EPA that a customer based in Carrigaline had reported white worms coming from a kitchen tap on July 2.
An official checked and flushed the pipe network in the vicinity of the house.
The report said no further worms had been observed by the complainant.
The audit said Irish Water had promptly initiated an investigation following receipt of a complaint of worms coming from a customer’s tap.
The EPA said the species of worm was identified as Nais elinguis – otherwise known as the sludge worm – which it said was “not parasitic and (is) harmless to human health”.
Cork County Council took samples of water from the property in Carrigaline on both July 4 and July 8, and found they were compliant with all tests for various parameters, including E. coli.
Follow-up tests on the Inniscarra plant, which extracts drinking water supplies from the River Lee, revealed the presence of worms in a filter.
The audit said daily samples were taken from the treated water reservoir, as well as the raw water tanks and lake at Inniscarra, over the following week, which revealed no further evidence of any worms.
It noted that both Irish Water and the council had been in contact with the HSE on the issue, in order to consult over any potential risk to public health.
Irish Water said it intended to increase backwashing flow rates to provide more effective cleaning of filters where there had been a build-up of material.
The affected filter was chlorinated to a higher concentration to ensure any remaining worms were killed.
Irish Water also carried out flushing in the distribution system, starting with the pipe network close to the complainant’s house.
The EPA recommended Irish Water undertake sampling of all filters at the Inniscarra plant as part of its regular maintenance operations.
An Irish Water spokesperson said that it was continuing to update the agency, “with a view to closing out all recommendations”.