Government considered shutting off water supply to deal with Leixlip problem - Murphy

Minister visiting plant which serves greater Dublin area today as boil water notice remains in place

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy pictured at the Leixlip Water Treatment Plant on Wednesday morning. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy pictured at the Leixlip Water Treatment Plant on Wednesday morning. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

 

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has revealed the Government considered shutting-off the water supply for homes and businesses that receive their water from the Leixlip water plant, but decided a boil water notice would be less inconvenient.

A boil water notice was reimposed on Monday evening less than a fortnight after the last one was lifted.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning at a housing conference, the Minister it was “not acceptable” that so many people were affected by the boil water notice.

“Too many people now have a situation were they’ve got to boil water. We had to make a decision about whether or not we were going to cut-off the water supply completely or move to a boil water notice on a temporary basis,” Mr Murphy said.

“I think it would have been a much bigger inconvenience for people if we cut-off their water supply. With the boil water notice, while it’s a hassle to have to boil water for consumption, people can still wash, they can still wash their clothes and they can still do most of the things that they need to do in the day — the daily chores and activities.”

He added that the boil water notice is temporary, and will be lifted as soon as they are given “the green light from the HSE”.

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

The water utility said on Tuesday that the boil water notice is likely to be in place until Thursday “at the earliest”.

The Minister is visiting the Leixlip plant today to inspect the site, understand what happened, what needs to happen and what investment is required from preventing this situation from happening again.

“There is a threat and a risk of it returning again in the future and what I will get a better understanding of from the engagements I’m having this week is how do we minimise this risk,” he added.

Mr Murphy acknowledged that while this is the second boil water notice in the Greater Dublin Area over the last number of weeks, the two notices were for “two separate reasons”.

“What we saw in, if you want to call it the October event, was a failure of an emergency system to activate, to shut down the plan when the water supply was at risk and that shouldn’t have happened,” he said.

“I think we all understand that it shouldn’t have happened. I’ve been told that has been corrected and that’s what I’ll be inspecting today.”

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

Three rounds of samples must be taken, including a sample on Wednesday evening, before the notice can be lifted.

Irish Water confirmed there are still a series of steps to be taken before the notice can be lifted, including satisfying criteria set out by the Environmental Protection Agency.