| -0.7°C Dublin

Water supply for 380,000 Dubliners 'at risk', says EPA


The waterworks at  Roundwood reservoir

The waterworks at Roundwood reservoir

The waterworks at Roundwood reservoir

THE water supply for almost 380,000 people in Dublin and Wicklow is "at risk" of contamination and it could be up to seven years before the problem is resolved, according to a new report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The organisation has listed 18 remedial action works that are a "priority" for Irish Water in both counties to secure the water supply for vast swathes of north Dublin and north Wicklow.

Six of these jobs relate to necessary improvements at reservoirs and waterworks supplying households and businesses in the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and Dublin City Council areas.

The EPA has observed "treatment and management issues" at the Vartry-Ballymore Eustace reservoir in Co Wicklow that serves 130,000 people in Dublin.


It has proposed an upgrade of the disinfection system and the use of a covered storage system with UV treatment being used as an "interim meassure".

The proposed date for the completion of the works has been set as August 2015.

Similar work is required at the Roundwood reservoir that serves a population of 49,000.

Meanwhile, the replacement of the 4km-long Callow Tunnel which supplies water to the capital - but is more than 150 years old - has been recommended to resolve issues in the water supply serving more than 317,000 people in Dublin and towns like Bray and Greystones.

This is a long-term project and completion of six of the related works identified in Co Wicklow is not planned until December 2022.

Though there are currently no boil water notices in Dublin, the EPA says action is needed to prevent them in the future.

David Flynn, a manager in the EPA's office of environmental enforcement, listed the measures Irish water need to take.

They include "removing and preventing boil water notices by improving disinfection systems" and "prioritising the EPA remedial action list schemes for improvement and investment".

Irish Water boss John Tierney said that his organisation needs to invest €2.3bn over the next six or seven years in treatment and network upgrades.

"Unsafe drinking water has no place in modern Ireland," he said.

He blamed "decades of under-investment" for the country's crumbling water system

The agency started charging for water on January 1 and the first bills are due to land in households around the country in April.

Mr Tierney said he understood the criticisms of how the Irish Water project started but said it is of "national importance" and "one which we are determined to deliver on".

The release of the remedial works list coincided with that of the EPA's Drinking Water Report for 2013.


Overall, 99.8pc of water samples complied with microbiological limits and 99.5pc complied with chemical limits.

There are currently 20,000 people on public supplies affected by boil water notices, including many in Roscommon where supplies in some area are contaminated by Cryptosporidium.

E.coli was detected in 10 supplies around the country in 2013. The EPA warned that there are 121 "at risk" supplies around the country serving 940,000 people.

"Overall, the compliance rate in public supplies is good," an EPA director, Gerard O'Leary, said, adding, "but this masks the specific and serious problems occurring in some supplies and the significant risk of future problems."