Hogan critical as water supplies restricted for second night

Households urged not to use discoloured mains water for drinking or cooking

A photograph of water reportedly taken from a tap in  Dublin city restaurant the  Camden Kitchen at 7pm yesterday. Photograph: @CamdenKitchen via Twitter

A photograph of water reportedly taken from a tap in Dublin city restaurant the Camden Kitchen at 7pm yesterday. Photograph: @CamdenKitchen via Twitter

Thu, Oct 31, 2013, 20:18

Nightly restrictions on water supplies are being implemented in the Dublin region for the second night in a row and will continue into next week.

Communications in relation to the measure, aimed at replenishing reserves following an issue at a treatment plant in Co Kildare, were today criticised by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan.

“We shouldn’t hear about it in the media yesterday morning that we have a problem. There should be a communication plan in place and that didn’t happen on this occasion to the extent that I would wish,” he said.

Mr Hogan told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny programme that he had spoken to the council and hoped they would learn a lesson.

The nightly restrictions affecting more than 1 million people in counties Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow came into force last night due to production problems and will continue until Monday at the earliest.

Discoloured Water

Some homes and businesses have been left with discoloured water in the wake of the problem.

Despite assurances yesterday that quality was not an issue, Dublin City Council has warned people who are getting brown, orange or yellow discolouration in supplies that it should not be used for drinking or cooking.

Dublin City Council urged householders experiencing the problem to run taps clear for two to three minutes. “If the problem persists contact us for further advice. Typically the problem resolves within an hour or two of the water supply returning,” the council said.

The authority said that anyone seeing white or cloudy water out of their taps should not worry — the water is safe to drink. It said the discolouration is usually air in the water caused by disruptions to the network.

The move has hit businesses with Paraic Hayden, owner of the Camden Kitchen restaurant in Dublin city, saying the quality of the water in the taps deteriorated from 7pm, an hour before the supply was turned off the for the night.

He said the water turned a grey, chalky colour. Mr Hayden described the supply interruption as a disaster for his business.

Asked about compensation for companies losing business due to the supply Mr Hogan said: “Let’s try to solve the problem first of all. ...We’ll worry about other matters afterwards,” he told RTÉ News at One. It was “a matter between the customers and Dublin City Council ultimately,” he said.

Mr Hogan said he had been speaking to engineers and they were hoping to have supply back by Monday. “All I can assure you is that everything possible being done try and find solution,” he said.

The Department of the Environment had assured the council that “whatever resources” were required it was happy to assist, he said.

It was not possible to “plan for the unknown” and this technical difficulty has not been previously encountered by the people at Dublin City Council, he said.

Engineers Meet

Meanwhile, Dublin City Council engineers and lab experts met today in a bid to resolve the crisis at Ballymore Eustace. They held talks on possible short term responses to the problem.

Michael Phillips, Dublin City Council engineer, was expected to talk to various chemists and water treatment experts from overseas who have experience of similar treatment crises. “What we need to do is find the people who have dealt with this exact, or more or less similar, situation before,” a spokesman said.

Mr Phillips said it may take up to two hours from when water is switched back for it to reach households and businesses. He was responding to concerns that water had not returned to taps in some households after first night of region-wide restrictions from 8pm last night to 7am.

Long-term solution

In the long term Mr Hogan said it would not be “acceptable” if a viable water supply network from the river Shannon took 10 years to be rolled out.

“We have to be able to achieve the implementation of our capital requirements a lot more quickly than that,” he said on RTÉ’s News at One. He expected it to be completed within seven years.

He was responding after a senior council official warned that the Dublin region could be facing water shortages for another decade due to delays in rolling out the Shannon project.