Government issues update on drinking water after dozens get sick from unsafe supply


The government said recent incidents of unsafe water supply from two treatment plants have now been rectified and the water is now safe to drink.

Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) described two serious incidents in recent weeks at drinking water plants serving parts of Dublin City (served by the Ballymore Water Treatment Plant Eustace) and Gorey, Co. Wexford.

This included, in Gorey’s case, diseases detected by the HSE in the community served by this water supply.

The Irish chief water officer, government officials and the chief executives of Dublin City Council and Wexford County Council met this afternoon to discuss the matter.

Following the meeting, Housing, Local Government and Heritage Minister Darragh O’Brien reassured the public that the water in these facilities is now safe to drink.



File photo dated 31/01/12 of water flowing from a domestic tap. A single social tariff to help the 1.5 million people in England and Wales who currently live in water poverty would end the ‘postcode lottery’ of supporting businesses, a consumer group said. Issue date: Wednesday, May 26, 2021.

In a statement, he said: “It is important to note that these incidents have been rectified and that the water supply for both factories is now potable.

Minister O’Brien adds: “Irish Water will now undertake an audit of water treatment plants across the country. They will prioritize the 20 largest processing plants, visit each of them, meet with the custodians of each plant to ensure that the proper processes are in place in terms of handling and escalating any incidents that may arise.

“The CEO of Irish Water and the CEOs of local authorities have each assured the Minister of their full cooperation and that their organizations are working together in full cooperation to put in place urgent and necessary corrective measures.

“Irish Water will also work with each local authority over the next two weeks, organizing refresher training on incident reporting for all factories. If necessary, Irish Water will now put in place a technician on site, in order to ensure the continuity of the safety of the wastewater treatment plants.



Water (stock)

“Ultimately, as we all know, there are limits to the current working arrangements between Irish Water and local authorities and this has an impact on service delivery. A process is underway within the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to achieve the transformation of this service, but I also ask that Irish Water and the local authorities take further steps to improve Irish Water’s control of all water service plants in the immediate future pending the implementation of the agreed long-term operational and staffing arrangements, ”Minister O’Brien concluded.

Irish Water also pointed out that the water supply to two treatment plants, which have caused numerous illnesses, is now safe to drink.

Niall Gleeson, Managing Director of Irish Water, said: “Irish Water agrees with the Minister and the EPA that both incidents are unacceptable. In either case, the late notification of problems related to the disinfection process in factories potentially puts public health at risk.



Water tap (stock)

“During today’s discussions with the CEOs of Wexford and Dublin City Council, we reconfirmed that all measures will be taken to ensure that there is no recurrence of drinking water problems. and to confirm to all customers that the water is safe to drink Irish Water has re-engaged with all local authorities on the need to report incidents to allow for timely risk assessments to protect public health.

“This incident underscores the importance of creating a single public service where service delivery is controlled and managed by a single organization. Irish Water is engaging through the Workplace Relations Commission with the Department for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, local authorities and unions in talks to create a single public service (SPU).

Irish Water is also continuing to consult with the HSE on the disease outbreak in Gorey and with Wexford County Council on a program of works at the water treatment plant. We would like to apologize to customers for the delay in communicating the incident and for the water treatment plant not reaching the appropriate level of disinfection.

“We continue to work with local authorities across the country to prioritize the provision of safe and secure drinking water to all of our customers. Irish Water will work with each local authority over the next two weeks, organizing refresher training on incident reporting for all factories. Irish Water will now have an on-site technician in place, if required, to ensure the continued safety of the water treatment plants.


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