Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Questions (215, 216)

James Lawless

Question:

215. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the measures being taken to reassure the public that water is appropriately treated and fit for consumption at both the Leixlip and Ballymore Eustace water plants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45595/19]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

216. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he is satisfied that the necessary steps have been taken by Irish Water and Fingal County Council at the Leixlip water treatment plant to ensure there is no repetition of the pump failure and control system failure that led to boil water notices for 600,000 persons. [45623/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 215 and 216 together.

Ballymore Eustace is currently producing water in compliance with water quality standards, it does not feature on the EPA’s remedial action list and is not subject to any water use notices or restrictions.

Leixlip water treatment plant is operated by Fingal County Council through a Service Level Agreement on behalf of Irish Water.

I am extremely concerned that this plant has been the subject of two boil water notices in quick succession, albeit for different reasons.

Following the October boil water notice incident, Irish Water and Fingal County Council have implemented automatic plant shutdown on high turbidity if there is a failure to respond to an alarm within 15 minutes.

In the case of the current (November) Boil Water Notice, the plant operators reacted quickly, before alarms were activated, and shut down the ‘Old Plant’ at Leixlip. Irish Water’s engineering team are currently assessing the plant in detail to determine the actions necessary to return the plant to full production and to ensure that the plant is resilient into the future.

The turbidity issues now arising are linked to the need to upgrade the older part of this treatment plant to improve the performance of the plant. In particular, the EPA has identified in its audits that the filters at the plant need to be upgraded.

It is a matter for the EPA and the HSE as regulators – and for Irish Water as the water utility, working with the local authority, to ensure that national standards are complied with.

I have spoken to the Managing Director of Irish Water and the CEO of Fingal County Council and will be meeting with them to discuss the issues in detail. I have also requested that the EPA provide me with a full report on that incident.

Our water and wastewater systems both require substantial and sustained investment: to bring the systems up to the standards 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 of a €6.1bn investment in infrastructure and assets and €4.9bn in operating costs.