Wa­ter no­tices:

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

The Irish Times - - Front Page - BRIAN HUTTON

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.

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