Confusion and anger over water treatment

By William O'Connor 

The capacity of the Irish Water plant in Leixlip to serve the increase in use in the Dublin area has been brought into question.

This comes on the back of the second boil-water notice in a couple of weeks which has affected 600,000 people.

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Sinn Féin councillor Mark Ward for North Clondalkin/Lucan/Palmerstown is reiterating his previous call to have the water source changed back to Celbridge.

Cllr Ward said: “There is confusion, anger and fear amongst people who are currently served by the Leixlip water plant. There have been two boil-water notices in a couple of weeks and residents are rightly worried about the quality of water.

“Previously my constituency of Clondalkin and Lucan was served by the Ballymore Eustace water plant in Celbridge. This was changed to Leixlip with no consultation with the general public.

"The Celbridge plant is a soft water supply, whilst Leixlip is hard water. This led to reports from residents of a change in the water quality

“Electrical appliances such as kettles and washing machines became damaged. Residents reported a change in taste and colour, with particles and grit-like substances found in the supply.

"I had Irish Water test several samples and they reported back that all was fine.

"This did not stop residents being concerned and some buying bottled water for daily use."

Cllr Ward added: “The two recent boil-water notices make me question the capacity of the Leixlip plant to supply all the additional homes since this change was made.

It also raises questions of governance by Irish Water, particularly in the delay in notifying the public during the first scare.

“Irish Water also reported that the reason for the most recent boil water notice was due to heavy rainfall. We live in Ireland, heavy rain is a regular occurrence. This does not fill me with confidence that this will not happen again.

“I received reports that the Leixlip plant is due a substantial upgrade next year.

"I argue that this upgrade should have taken place prior to supply being changed from Celbridge.

"I have also asked that the supply be changed back to Celbridge and that if there are any changes in the future that a full public consultation is carried out.”

Meanwhile, Irish Water released a statement on Wednesday evening in consultation with the HSE. 

The Boil Water Notice remains in place with  a map of affected areas available on the Irish Water site. 

According to the statement: “Irish Water and Fingal County Council can confirm that the Boil Water Notice to protect the health of customers supplied by Leixlip Water Treatment Plant remains in place.

"Irish Water and Fingal County Council senior management met on Wednesday morning at the Leixlip Water Treatment Plant to discuss the progressing work and mitigation measures that could be put in place to minimise the risk of the old plant not being able to treat very cloudy water.

“Present at the meeting were the Managing Director of Irish Water Niall Gleeson, General Manager Eamon Gallen, as well as senior management staff in the areas of operations and water compliance.

“The CEO of Fingal County Council AnnMarie Farrelly, members of the management team and other senior staff and plant staff were also in attendance.

“Meetings are ongoing with the EPA and the HSE to discuss the criteria for lifting the Boil Water Notice as quickly and as safely as possible, Irish Water’s primary focus is the protection of public health.”

Minister Eoghan Murphy joined Irish Water and Fingal County Council to visit the old plant to see the filter beds that are being replaced and to better understand the challenges and the mitigation measures.

Heavy rain

According to Irish Water, due to heavy rain, the source water going into the plant was cloudy due to suspended particles.

The old Leixlip Plant was not able to cope with the cloudiness levels.

Plant operators reacted quickly before alarms were activated and shut down the old plant to stop this water entering the network.

There were no issues at the new plant, where the level of turbidity was managed by the newer technology on site.

Due to falling levels in the treated water reservoirs it was critical that production was re-started at the old plant otherwise significant restrictions and outages and other water quality issues would be inevitable.

“The ‘old plant’ at Leixlip produces 20 per cent of the overall daily water demand for the Greater Dublin Area.

Boil Wayer Notice remains in place 

 

As Irish Water cannot guarantee the quality of the water from the old plant, a Boil Water Notice remains in place.

A spokesperson for Irish Water said: “Irish Water are aware of the upcoming yellow weather alert. We are looking at a range of solutions to ensure that increases in cloudiness in the water can be managed more effectively by the old plant.

"It is not possible to say conclusively at this time what impact any particular weather warning may have on the water produced but we will be monitoring the situation closely.” 

Details on Boil Water Notices can be found on the Irish Water website HERE or on Irish Water Twitter account. 

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