Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Questions (58)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

58. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the recent large-scale boil water notice that affected over 600,000 residents in counties Meath, Kildare and Dublin; the measures undertaken to prevent such an occurrence again; the steps taken to ensure that residents have a clean, safe and reliable water supply; and if the EPA recommendations have been acted upon. [51855/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Fingal County Council, on behalf of Irish Water, operates the Leixlip water treatment plant. Following the recent incidents, water provided by the Leixlip plant is currently safe, and is not subject to a restriction. However, the plant remains in need of improvement works that will make it resilient and prevent future issues.

I remain concerned about the vulnerability of this plant. My focus is firstly, to ensure that Irish Water continues to prioritise and progress the improvement works; and secondly, that appropriate protocols are in place to deal with any future issues at the plant while the works are underway.

Irish Water is undertaking improvements to the plant as recommended by EPA audits as quickly as is practical. While works are progressing on the plant, water production has been reduced by c30 million litres per day. Irish Water has increased water production from other plants, particularly Ballymore Eustace, to compensate. These are operational matters for Irish Water.

In relation to the recent boil water notices, I and my Department have engaged with all the organisations involved to review the response to the incidents. In addition, I have in recent days, received the EPA’s report on the two boil water notices which I requested from the Agency. I am meeting with the EPA, the HSE, Irish Water, Fingal County Council, the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities and An Fóram Uisce today to agree actions following the EPA report.

While the water being produced at Leixlip is safe, the risk of further boil water notices continues until the upgrade works are finalised in the first half of next year.

The EPA will continue to provide regulatory oversight of Irish Water, and work closely with Irish Water and the HSE to ensure the protection of human health.

It should be noted that, overall, the additional water capacity available in the Greater Dublin Area is extremely low. Irish Water has medium and long term plans to increase the supply to the Greater Dublin Area and to improve the resilience of the existing infrastructure, in particular through the development of the proposed Midlands and Eastern Water Supply Project. In the meantime, Irish Water and the local authorities are monitoring demand and supply capacity on a daily basis and will continue to balance the network to minimise possible impacts on customers.