Sunday 19 November 2017

Irish Water apologises for crisis caused by burst pipe

The Staleen pipe, which caused so many problems
The Staleen pipe, which caused so many problems

Fiona Magennis

Irish Water has said it 'recognises and deeply regrets' the disruption and hardship caused to the people of Drogheda, South Louth and East Meath during the summer when a burst critical main left much of the town without water for a week.

The apology comes as a review of the Staleen Water Treatment Plant is published on the Irish Water Website.

In the report, the company acknowledges that they should have acted sooner in relation to the Drogheda Water Crisis, which began on Thursday, July 20th when the pipe burst.

The report acknowledges that in hindsight, the incident 'could have' been formally escalated from an operational incident to a high severity incident prior to Sunday, July 23rd.

'It's important to note that this would not have shortened the overall time to repair or allowed tankers to be mobilised any sooner, however it may have enabled detailed contingency planning to have been more developed coming into Monday 24th and potentially supported a more comprehensive communications response to be established on Saturday 22nd.'

It notes that watermain bursts are and will continue for some time to be a common occurrence across the water network. It said what differentiated this incident was that three repair attempts using standard and modified standard couplings did not result in an effective repair and 'a prolonged outage ensued'.

A number of recommendations were set out in the report. These included that IW and Local Authority Incident Management Procedures should be reviewed and revised to ensure incident classifications, escalation protocols and roles and responsibilities are clear and consistent throughout, that escalation thresholds and roles and responsibilities are clear and consistent throughout and that they formally include the role of IW Incident Liaison Engineer which was found to be extremely effective once in place on Monday 24th.

The report said IW should establish a central stores to provide for the quick deployment of equipment, establish frameworks with suppliers, complete with out of hours arrangement and look at establishing mutual aid arrangements with other water utilities. Irish Water said work is currently underway to design and progress the replacement of the high pressure asbestos water main following the burst on this critical pipe last July.

The company said additional funding has been committed to replace this pipe along with the €24m already prioritised for upgrades to the Staleen and Cavanhill Water Treatment Plants. Construction on these projects will begin in the coming months.

Drogheda Independent

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