Thursday 26 April 2018

Water quality problem: Chemists from the UK brought in

Ed Carty and Sarah Stack, PA

CHEMISTS from the UK have been called in to try and fix the water quality issue leaving much of greater Dublin without proper supplies.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said its enforcement inspector held talks with council chiefs in the capital as they try to resolve the 10-day old problem at the Ballymore Eustace plant in Co Kildare.

Severe restrictions will hit supplies across Dublin city and county and into Kildare and Wicklow for the next five days and many people will have no water between 8pm and 7am each night.

The EPA said Dublin City Council has asked UK chemists to advise them on how to tackle the problem.

Michael Phillips, Dublin City Council engineer, said it is not clear what has caused it.

Changes to the quality of water coming into the plant has seen supplies of a different colour and turbidity or cloudiness than it is used to handling.

They are trying to identify the right chemical, known as polyelectrolytes, or the right balance or dose of chemicals, used to force small particles in raw water to stick together allowing them to be filtered or cleaned out.

Production at Ballymore Eustace is down by 25% as a result but the quality of water making it to homes and businesses has not been affected.

Mr Phillips has suggested the increased cloudiness of raw water may have been caused by the "fine summer" while the EPA suggested recent heavy rainfall may have played a part.

"It's mainly the change of the character of the water coming into the plant and it's proving very difficult to treat it," he said.

"There's no issue with the final water quality coming out - people do not have to worry about that, but production is down about 20%."

Mr Phillips added: "We don't know what caused the change in this."

Homes and businesses have been affected in Fingal, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Dublin city and the south county areas, as well as into Kildare and Wicklow.

Water pressure in taps is being hit and loss of supply is also likely, councils have said, and it is expected the problem will last until next Monday.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland criticised how the water restrictions will impact businesses.

Chief executive Adrian Cummins called for tankers of water to be delivered.

He described Ireland as a "third-world country" and claimed water shortages or restrictions seem to be happening every six months.

"We had a water shortage during the summer, we have a water shortage now, and probably if we have snow in the winter time, we will have a water shortage again," he said.

The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) said that major hotels should not be affected by the restrictions as they have large tanks with enough water supplying enough for two days. It said once restrictions are lifted during the day tanks will be replenished.

Households have been urged to conserve water during the day as much as possible.

Tips include keeping a jug of water in the fridge instead of running the tap, only using the dishwasher and washing machine when full, turning off taps while brushing teeth, minimising toilet flushes and taking quick showers.

"Ten minutes in a power-shower uses 250 litres of water, two-and-a-half times more than a bath does (100 litres)," council chiefs said.

The water issue has also sparked criticism of the Government's plans to bring in water metering and charges.

Press Association

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