Irish Water cannot say if weather warning will impact on boil water notice period

Rainfall warning has been issued for Dublin, Kildare, Louth, Wicklow and Meath

Irish Water has said it cannot determine what impact a new yellow weather warning will have on the current boil water notice affecting more than 600,000 people.

In an update issued on Wednesday evening, the utility said that following a consultation with the HSE and Fingal County Council, the boil water notice remains in place.

A status yellow rainfall warning has been issued for five counties which is effective from 6pm on Wednesday until 9pm on Thursday. The weather warning is for Dublin, Kildare, Louth, Wicklow and Meath.

In a statement, Irish Water said it could not yet determine what impact this would have on the boil water notice.


“Irish Water are aware of the upcoming yellow weather alert. We are looking at a range of solutions to ensure that increases in cloudiness in the water can be managed more effectively by the old plant. It is not possible to say conclusively at this time what impact any particular weather warning may have on the water produced but we will be monitoring the situation closely.”

A spokeswoman for Irish Water also said the boil water notice would not be lifted until Friday at the earliest, but added there was no specific timeframe beyond that.

A boil water notice was reimposed for some 600,000 people in the greater Dublin area on Monday evening, less than a fortnight after the last one was lifted.

Those in the areas affected by the boil water notice can use only boiled or bottled water for drinking and in food preparation.

Late last month, a boil water warning notice was put in place after a mechanical issue at the Leixlip treatment plant caused concerns about the quality of supply.

Irish Water and Fingal County Council blamed the latest precaution on heavy rain and “turbidity”, or cloudy water due to suspended particles, in the source water for the Leixlip plant, which exceeded acceptable levels.

Upgrade works

Irish Water and Fingal County Council senior management met on Wednesday morning at the Leixlip Water Treatment Plant to discuss “measures that could be put in place to minimise the risk of the old plant not being able to treat very cloudy water.”

“Meetings are ongoing with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the HSE to discuss the criteria for lifting the boil water notice as quickly and as safely as possible. Irish Water’s primary focus is and always will be the protection of public health.”

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy visited the Leixlip plant on Wednesday morning to meet the various teams.

He witnessed the upgrade works, which are not expected to be completed until the second quarter of next year.

Because of recent heavy rain, the source water going into the plant was cloudy due to suspended particles.

“The old Leixlip plant was not able to cope with the cloudiness levels. Plant operators reacted quickly before alarms were activated and shut down the old plant to stop this water entering the network. There were no issues at the new plant, where the level of turbidity was managed by the newer technology on site,” Irish Water said.

“Due to falling levels in the treated water reservoirs it was critical that production was re-started at the old plant otherwise significant restrictions and outages and other water quality issues would be inevitable. The ‘old plant’ at Leixlip produces 20 per cent of the overall daily water demand for the Greater Dublin Area. As Irish Water cannot guarantee the quality the water from the old plant, a Boil Water Notice remains in place.”

Irish Water's general manager Eamon Gallen said: "Irish Water apologises for the impact and inconvenience caused by this boil water notice to homes and businesses. Our number one priority is public health and the safety and well-being of our customers.

“We would like to reassure our customers that Irish Water’s drinking water and operational experts are working with our colleagues in Fingal County Council and in consultation with the HSE and the EPA to resolve this issue as quickly as possible”.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times