herald

Saturday 7 December 2019

600,000 warned that new boil-water notices cannot be ruled out yet

Water has been restored
Water has been restored

Further boil water notices can not be ruled out for 600,000 people in Dublin, Kildare and Meath, Irish Water has warned.

Managing director Niall Gleeson said the Leixlip Water Treatment Plant which has caused disruption to tens of thousands of homes and businesses in the region for the past eight days would continue to be vulnerable until a full upgrade of its filter system was complete next year.

The boil water notice was finally lifted shortly after 5pm yesterday when the latest in a series of test results from water samples taken at the plant came back clear.

Mr Gleeson said a range of measures were in place to ensure the plant was running better than before.

"More personnel have been deployed to the site, automated shutdowns are now in place, other treatment plants have been ramped up to take some pressure off Leixlip and monitoring at the site has increased," he said.

But he added that while the HSE was satisfied that the water being supplied from the plant now posed no health risk, difficulties remained.

"The old plant at Leixlip remains vulnerable and Irish Water, working with Fingal County Council, will be working to minimise the risk of another boil-water notice," he said.

Caution

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy also sounded a note of caution: "The treatment plant at Leixlip will continue to be vulnerable to fluctuations in the raw water quality until a full upgrade of the filters is complete in mid-2020," he said. "Further problems cannot be ruled out."

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to publish an audit report on the plant next week - its second in a matter of weeks. It previously went into the plant in late October after a separate but similar incident resulted in a boil water notice for the same 600,000 people for three days.

The EPA has said that even after the filters are replaced, the plant will need an extra layer of water treatment to make sure the water entering the region's pipes and taps was properly cleaned.

It says the plant needs an ultraviolet disinfection system installed to give that added protection.

Irish Water is considering the request and examining how much it would cost. It is to give a formal response to the EPA by the end of this month.

In the meantime, Mr Murphy has asked his officials to call Irish Water, the EPA, the HSE and Fingal County Council together and carry out a 'post incident review'.

"This precautionary boil water notice was a significant disruption to everyone's daily lives and to business. I apologise for the impact of this second incident," he said.

"The water system for the whole region must be protected, enhanced and made more resilient."

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