Thursday 14 November 2019

Water mess as the boil notice dampens trade

Boil water notice leaves Fingal businesses high and dry as they struggle to cope

‘Businesses have suffered’ says Anthony Cooney, CEO of Fingal Dublin Chamber
‘Businesses have suffered’ says Anthony Cooney, CEO of Fingal Dublin Chamber

A Boil Water Notice issued by Irish Water and Fingal County Council last week caused widespread disruption in certain parts of Fingal and left traders in the hospitality sector in particular, drowning in problems.

The notice was issued on October 22 as a precautionary measure following consultation with the Health Service Executive regarding issues with the treatment process at the Leixlip Water Treatment Plant.

The Boil Water Notice impacted approximately 600,000 people supplied by the Leixlip Water Treatment Plant, which included many Fingal households.

The outage had also impacted on local businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector.

Fingal Dublin Chamber CEO Anthony Cooney, speaking last week, explained how Fingal businesses were being affected: 'It's affecting every business, from coffee shops to hotels to food manufacturing. We've had people who have had to send people home. There doesn't seem to be a 'plan B' from Irish Water, and businesses have suffered. What there will have to be out of this as opposed to apportioning blame at this stage, is that there'll have to be some learning from it.

'We are in dialogue with Irish Water, we will be asking them if there is an alternative plan in the event of a recurrence, because the fact of the matter is, a lot of businesses were just left high and dry. They don't have water, lots of people can talk to them, but they don't have water.'

He said: 'I think the HSE and Irish Water and the EPA are going there this afternoon to Leixlip, but between the business community and Irish Water we have to come up with a 'plan B' for that kind of disruption.'

Mr Tony Tynan, Manager of 'Esquires Coffee Shop' in Airside Retail Park in Swords said: 'I found out yesterday morning at around nine o'clock. We've lost a lot of business over the two days, and we only found out through the news more than anything else. There was no notification from Fingal County Council.

'People are coming in and they want coffee but they can't get it because we can't provide it. We're still running, we're having to buy bottled water and boiling that for teas and Americanos. So business is down for two days, I'd say maybe forty to fifty percent over the two days.'

He said: 'If the businesses don't get any notifications from Fingal County Council, then it's being handled very badly. We have to find out through RTE News, and we still have no notification from Fingal County Council yet to say that it's on for another day or it's off, or whatever, so you'd be frustrated yourself if you were a business owner.'

According to Balbriggan Chamber of Commerce CEO Maurice O'Halloran, Balbriggan businesses weren't overly affected by the notice, which they saw primarily as an 'inconvenience.'

He was less critical too, of Fingal County Council's handling of the notice, which he said took the necessary measures in ensuring water safety from the Leixlip plant.

He said: 'I was out on the town talking to a few people and people were saying yes, it's an inconvenience, but in actual fact they're getting around it well, and they're very happy that it's only a short-lived, event and hoping it'll be lifted today.

'If something is contaminated and gets into the system, the proper thing is to not take any risks, and to issue the boil notice. I don't know what other way they can handle it. It's just unfortunate that a system as far away as Leixlip has an effect on a place like Balbriggan.'

He said: 'I think you can't take any risks with a notice like that, you have to be very careful with health issues and I think the council did the proper thing in issuing the boil water notice. While it's inconvenient, I think it's the proper thing to do.'

Harvey's American Bar & Grill in Balbriggan, however, had been badly hit by the Boil Water Notice.According to Manager Neill Larkin, the business saw a 25% drop in revenue in the first two days of the notice, which he said had impacted heavily on customer footfall.

Mr Larkin also complained of a lack of notice from Fingal County Council, as well as a lack of information on when normal services would resume.

He said: 'I found out the day previous on Facebook. There's been absolutely no contact from Fingal County Council in any way shape or form, and this couldn't have come at probably the worst time of the year because it's Halloween and we have big parties booked and everything.

'You're having customers who would normally come in for lunch, let's say, and we've seen a 25% decrease because they can't get even a splash of water with their lunch.

'There's been no update from Fingal County Council as to how long this is going to go on. They're saying it should be flushed through in three days, but the only way you can find out is on Facebook, and there's nothing on there.'

The Boil Water Notice remained in place until last Friday evening, October 24 after Irish Water met with the EPA and HSE and determined it was safe to do lift it with immediate effect.

Fingal Independent