People who have problems with water discolouration should log it on the Irish Water website, Director of Services Bernie Woods stated at the monthly meeting of Louth Council Council.
She explained that an issue with magnesium levels in Dundalk’s drinking water supply is causing the discolouration of the water coming from the taps in many parts of the town and surrounding areas.
The on-going problem of water discolouration was raised by a number of councillors.
Householders were worried about the safety of the water when flushing was going on, Cllr Maeve Yore said.
Cllr Pearse McGeough said that local Sinn Fein TD Ruairi O Murchu had organised a fantastic meeting with representatives of Irish Water which gave an indication that the Greenmount project would be completed by 2025 yet the report before the meeting said 2026. He sought clarification on which was correct.
Cllr John Reilly wondered if there was a problem with the Cavan Hill treatment plant, saying he was getting a lot of questions from residents from Netownbalreagan to Ard Easmuinn, the Back of the Wall and Barleyfield.
He recalled that years ago, the town got water from Anaverna and he wondered if that was still the case.
Cllr John Sheridan recalled that he had raised the issue of water discolouration. Flushing isn’t being carried out all year round and he felt this was why they had problems.
It is now being carried out five days a week until mid-July.
Areas at the end of networks were experiencing water discolouration as well but this was a problem across the whole network. He thought it was going to be an issue until September, recalling that it had happened last summer also.
"It’s entirely predictable and inevitable that it’s going to happen,” he said, expressing disappointment that it was a problem again this year.
Ms Woods explained that the levels of magnesium in the water was at the root of the problem as that was what’s causing the discolouration of the water.
She said that Irish Water are currently cleaning out the fourth and final reservoir at Cavan Hill.
The problem was greater during the summer months when the weather is warm and that’s why the flushing programme was being done now and in areas with the highest level of magnesium concentrates.
The council are in constant talks with Irish Water about the issue. The local authority will be taking the plant back next week which will allow for a more hands on approach.
In response to Cllr McGeough’s query in relation to the Greenmount plant, she said it would most likely be 2026 before work is complete.
Cllr Kevin Meenan recalled that they’d had a similar discussion about the water supply last year and he didn’t think they would be back talking about it again.
It wasn’t just discolouration but the water was fizzing up. “If you pour it into a diluted orange, it will have a head on it like a pint of Guinness!’
He said he had no confidence in the water and only drinks bottled water.
“I want Irish Water to come into a meeting and tell us what is happening.”
Cllr Edel Corrigan backed this proposal, saying Irish Water should also give an explanation of the testing and maintenance carried out to ensure the quality and safety of the water.
Testing, she said, “is only a snapshot in time” and she was concerned about the quality of the water when the flushing is being carried out.
Cllr John Reilly noted that he hadn’t received an answer to his question regarding the reservoir at Anaverna, which he felt could be used to supply parts of north-Louth that have no mains water.
He was aware that in the 1970s, water from the reservoir was piped into town for the two breweries.
Ms Woods said she was not 100 per cent sure whether that reservoir was still in use while Chief Executive Joan Martin said that as far as she knew the water goes to the distillery in town, but not to the town water supply.