Friday 19 July 2019

South Sligo can drink tap water again

The boil water notice for the area supplied by the Lough Talt Public Water Supply in South Sligo which has been in place since last February has been lifted.

However, Irish Water says there is a high risk of it being re-imposed in the near future.

The lifting of the boil notice has come as a big relief to householders and businesses in the area.

Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council, Cllr Martin Baker said: 'Householders, farmers and businesses in the area would be delighted with this news, and he thanked them for their patience and understanding while the boil notice was in place.

The news was also welcomed by Councillor Jerry Lundy, Chair of Sligo County Council's Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) on Transport and Environment, and leas Cathaoirleach of Tubbercurry /Ballymote Municipal District.

"Dealing with the effects of a boil notice can be very difficult for a community, and I am delighted that the notice which was in place for eight months has been lifted," he said.

The boil water notice was put in place following a detection of cryptosporidium during routine sampling at the water treatment plant.

An increased continuous weekly sampling plan was implemented and five further detections of cryptosporidium were found both at the plant and in the supply network during of February.

Following several consultations with the HSE over the intervening months, it was advised that the boil water notice should remain in place due to inadequate treatment for cryptosporidium, cryptosporidium detections at the plant and investigations of associated illness in the community.

Continued weekly monitoring demonstrated zero detection since February 28 2018 until the end of August when further detections of cryptosporidium at the plant were recorded.

Following a consultative meeting last Wednesday between Irish Water, the HSE and Sligo County Council it was agreed to lift the notice with immediate effect as there had been no reported cases of illness in the community and zero detections recorded since the end of August.

In the meantime, Irish Water will continue to monitor this supply closely for the presence of cryptosporidium.

Anthony Skeffington, Regional Asset Operations Manager from Irish Water said: "Public health is our number one priority and we aim to provide compliant and robust water treatment for the 13,000 people who are supplied by the Lough Talt public water supply in the shortest possible time and that is where our attentions are focused.

"This detection of cryptosporidium came to light due to heightened sampling by Irish Water on this scheme. Irish Water is acutely aware that this water supply lacks the necessary barriers and will continue to monitor it closely to ensure public health is safeguarded."

The level of treatment currently provided at the Lough Talt water treatment plant does not provide adequate protection against cryptosporidium. Irish Water is advising customers that until the plant is upgraded and a validated cryptosporidium barrier is provided there is a high risk of further cryptosporidium detections in the supply.

If this scenario occurs, it is possible that the boil water notice may be re-imposed.

In 2015 Irish Water proposed to construct a water treatment plant downstream of the existing treatment plant site but was refused planning permission by Sligo County Council and subsequently on appeal to An Bord Pleanála.

The 2015 application was refused because An Bord Pleanála could not exclude the possibility that the development, in combination with the abstraction from Lough Talt, would adversely affect the Lough Hoe Special Area of Conservation and the River Moy.

Irish Water applied for planning to upgrade the water treatment plant on 28 May 2018 for the provision of an emergency water treatment plant to address the absence of an effective crypto barrier, but also to provide mitigation against the formation of Trihalomethanes.

The county council requested further information on 19 July 2018 and Irish Water expect to return the information to the council in November.

Business customers will shortly receive a 40% rebate (backdated to March 2018 on the cost of the supply of water to their businesses.

Meanwhile, Irish Water, working in partnership with Sligo County Council, is replacing ageing water mains in the Attiduff and Ardtrasna near Ballinfull to improve security of supply and drinking water quality for customers and to reduce high levels of leakage.

The works involve the replacement of approximately 800 metres of problematic water mains with high density polyethylene (plastic) pipes and is scheduled to commence on October 29th.

The works are part of Irish Water's National Leakage Reduction Programme which will reduce the high level of leakage across the country by fixing or replacing ageing water mains over the next four years.

Sligo Champion