Boil-water notice for 600,000 to continue until at least Tuesday, Irish Water says Leixlip plant cannot close during upgrade works as it supplies so much to Dublin
More than 600,000 homes and businesses in greater Dublin, forced to boil water, face further disruption:
More than 600,000 homes and businesses in greater Dublin, forced to boil water because it may be unsafe, face further disruption in the months ahead even if supplies are cleared for consumption on Tuesday, Irish Water has admitted.
Niall Gleeson, managing director of the utility, said he would like to shut down the Leixlip Water Treatment Plant – which is at the centre of the pollution concerns – and “blitz the whole thing” but he can’t, because it feeds so many of the capital’s taps.
Instead, Irish Water is carrying out necessary upgrades on filters at the plant bit by bit to keep it in operation.
Mr Gleeson accepted this meant more boil-water notices could be issued again until the upgrade works are expected to be completed sometime next spring. Measures were also being put in place to help the plant cope with weather events.
“We are hoping it will be more resilient but there is the possibility we will have to restrict that plant,” he said.
The latest boil-water notice – the second in as many weeks, affecting much of north Co Dublin, as well as parts of Kildare and Meath – will not be lifted before Tuesday. It came into force last Monday.
Heavy rainfall and conditions in the Liffey were blamed for “high turbidity levels” – water cloudy with matter or sediment – which led to the risk of microscopic parasites, Cryptosporidium and Giardia, in the water supply.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) described the turbidity levels as “unacceptably high”.
Officials from the EPA, Irish Water and the Health Service Executive (HSE) carried out an “audit” there yesterday.
Mr Gleeson said all agreed that it was working satisfactorily again since about 5pm on Wednesday, but in order to give the HSE “more confidence in the plant” they wanted to continue testing until tomorrow.
“Assuming all the samples have passed or are satisfactory, we will be able to lift the boil water notice at some stage on Tuesday,” he told RTÉ.
“Ideally, if we had more head room in Dublin I would shut down that plant and we would have done the works in a six to 12-month period – just blitz the whole thing.”
Mr Gleeson added that the country’s water infrastructure generally was “not in a good place” and he appealed for patience from the public as boil notices may be issued elsewhere.
The EPA has warned “the ability of the Leixlip plant to maintain an appropriate level of performance remains a concern”.
“Irish Water are undertaking filter upgrade works to address the immediate treatment deficit at the plant,” it said. “However, an additional treatment barrier may be required.”
Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy voiced his “extreme disappointment” that the boil-water notice will continues for at least several more days.
“People in the affected areas have shown incredible patience and fortitude in the face of this ongoing major disruption to daily life and business, and I thank everyone for that,” he said.