Saturday 7 December 2019

Boil notices debated by council

Fingal County Council Chief Executive Ann Marie Farrelly has said it was 'a source of great disappointment' that a second Boil Water Notice was put in place in Fingal recently, which caused disruption to 300,000 residents in the county.

Addressing a full meeting of the council last week, Ms Farrelly said Fingal County Council wished to apologise to Fingal residents for the disruption to water services, which took place from Monday November 4 to Tuesday November 12 last due to problems at the Leixlip Water Treatment Plant.

Ms Farrelly said the council was working with Irish Water, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the HSE to address issues at the Leixlip plant, and said the local authority offered 'every support' to Irish Water in ensuring upgrades to the plant were carried out 'as soon as possible.'

Despite Ms Farrelly's assurances, she admitted that the ability of Leixlip Water Treatment Plant to ensure 'an appropriate level of performance' remained 'a concern.'

She said, however, that Irish Water must now notify the EPA and the HSE if the plant does not meet the level of performance required to ensure adequate water treatment, and noted there would be increased monitoring of water quality until upgrades were carried out on the 'old' section of the plant.

A newly implemented auto-shutdown facility at the Leixlip plant was a 'significant intervention', she said, which would assist in preventing any future incidents.

Ms Farrelly confirmed that the failure of staff to respond to alarms at the Leixlip plant prior to the recent Boil Water Notice was a matter of 'ongoing internal investigation.'

Responding to Ms Farrelly's report, Cllr Duncan Smith (LAB), while thanking the council for its communications on the Boil Water Notice issue, said he did have some 'major concerns' on the issue.

Asking if there had been any 'preliminary identification' of what works would be required at the Leixlip plant, Cllr Smith said that there seemed to be an 'expectation' that a Boil Water Notice would be issued again.

Cllr Smith asked Ms Farrelly if 'we were facing a winter or 2020 or 2021' of further notices 'on a regular basis?'

There were councillors in the Chamber, he noted, who had 'just as much mandate' to attend Irish Water 'workshop' meetings, yet they were not being represented at these meetings.

'We want', he said, Irish Water to 'come in and talk to us - every single one of us.'

Cllr Ann Graves (SF), claimed that recommendations contained in an EPA audit carried out at Leixlip Water Treatment Plant last March had not been acted on, and questioned whether this was the cause of the recent Boil Water Notice.

Irish Water needed to confirm if the water problem was due to faults identified in the March audit, she said, and if so, needed to answer why these were not addressed.

Cllr Graves also asked what measures had been put in place during the Boil Water Notice for people who could not afford to buy bottled water, which was a problem affecting many residents in Fingal.

The Boil Water Notice was removed on Tuesday November 12, following approval from the EPA.

The boil notice was the second such notice to affect the Greater Dublin Area, including Fingal over the last few weeks with residents left frustrated and fearful of repeats.

Fingal Independent