Unfortunately, the ongoing boil water notice continues to cause serious disruption, worry and major inconvenience for more than 600,000 people and for many businesses in the areas affected in Dublin, Meath and Kildare. It important to note, however, that the problem at the water treatment plant was identified and the fault is now resolved. The water treatment plant is now, I am informed, producing water in compliance with all quality requirements.
However, for a period of time on Monday partially treated water entered the system and this needs to work its way through the network. Given the incident that occurred a precautionary boil water notice was put in place. The results of water testing are now available to the regulators and are being examined by Irish Water, the HSE and the EPA.
I was informed when the scale of the event and the issue were known and it was clear there was a public health risk. My Department and I have been in constant contact with Irish Water since then and I have been in direct contact with the managing director of Irish Water. My priority is to ensure that people's health is protected. We want to see this notice lifted without undue delay, but only when our water supply has been confirmed safe by the HSE and EPA.
In the meantime, Irish Water's guidance to all users, including those in the healthcare, school and tourism sectors, is to follow the advice in the boil water notice. Once water is boiled in line with this guidance, it will be safe to use and to drink. Lifting the boil water notice will be a matter for the HSE, as the public health authority, along with the EPA, as the drinking water quality regulator. This will involve confirmation of water analysis results currently being examined; the result from today's EPA audit; and verification that any partially treated water has been entirely flushed through the water network.
Irish Water, the HSE and the EPA are all working to ensure this happens as quickly as possible and are keeping me and my Department informed. I will, in turn, keep the Government and this House informed. More generally, the EPA reports that the quality of drinking water in Ireland's public supplies remains high but there are risks associated with our current water system.
Our water and wastewater systems require substantial and sustained investment to bring the systems up to the quality and resilience standards required of a modern service, to provide for population growth and to build resilience in the face of climate change. The Government has approved the Irish Water strategic funding plan 2019-2024, comprising a €6.1 billion investment in infrastructure and assets and a €4.9 billion investment in operating costs.
To answer the Deputy's specific question, I know he is well aware of how Irish Water works with local authorities because we have worked on issues particular to his constituency. He is aware there was a previous fault in the Leixlip plant. Remedial action was meant to have been taken following that fault and an audit was being done. Part of the investigation now under way involves seeing what happened when Irish Water got the report on the work done and then reported to the EPA on what systems had been put in place to ensure the fault could not happen again. I cannot say whether it is the same fault because I do not know that yet. That is exactly what is being investigated.
For the first time, given that this is an exceptional event due to the number of people on the precautionary boil water notice, the EPA will report directly to me on this so I can be clear about what is happening. I was already in engagement with Irish Water for a period of time on Monday as part of the regular engagements we have. There is a new managing director in place. We met in what I call the crisis room - I am not sure what it is called - because it is where we did a lot of work on the drought the summer before last. It was only after that engagement that this event happened. The point I made in the Chamber was that I have a sustained engagement with Irish Water and have spoken to the managing director directly since then. My officials have also been in touch.
What happened will be in the report and I do not want to get ahead of it. At approximately 10.15 p.m. on Monday, the shutdown was ordered at the plant by the plant manager. The plant came into service slowly at around 11.30 p.m. on the same evening and then reached normal service levels at about 5 o'clock. From then on, we had engagement with the EPA and HSE to examine what happened and the potential risk and things escalated from there. The plant was fixed very quickly, but what is known as a slug of water made its way into the system.
The Deputy's point on the map is a fair one. The difficulty we have when we have reduced pressure in the water system after an incident is that it is not an exact science. It is not like turning off electricity after which everything stops. The water has to work its way out of the system and sometimes we cannot be absolutely sure where it is in the system. I can tell the Deputy that further testing was done today which is quite encouraging. I hope to be able to make a further statement early tomorrow. I will do so based on the recommendation of the HSE, because as the health authority it will make a decision in conjunction with the EPA. I said yesterday that the boil water notice, as a precautionary measure, might be maintained for a much smaller part of the sector, but I will be able to clarify that in due course.