Irish Water assures Minister treatment plants are ‘producing clean water’

Audits completed on 25 largest treatment plants along with ‘refresher training’, – O’Brien

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien said on Wednesday he had received an update on the actions taken by Irish Water and local authorities following the recent incidents. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos Dublin

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien said on Wednesday he had received an update on the actions taken by Irish Water and local authorities following the recent incidents. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos Dublin

 

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien has said Irish Water has assured him that both treatment plants at Gorey and Ballymore Eustace are “stable, operating normally and are producing clean water”.

Mr O’Brien said audits that were requested on the 25 largest water plants have been completed while “refresher training” has been provided.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month accused Irish Water and local authorities in Wexford and Dublin city of “abject failure” after unsafe water was released to the public from the Creagh plant, which serves the west side of Gorey, and the Ballymore Eustace plant which serves almost 900,000 people in the greater Dublin region.

Mr O’Brien said on Wednesday he had received an update on the actions taken by Irish Water and local authorities following the recent incidents.

He said refresher training is also being provided for all local authority management and engineers who are then “cascading” this training to all operatives and technical staff in the 800 plus water treatment plants.

“I am pleased that Irish Water and the local authorities are working together in full cooperation to put in place these urgent and necessary corrective measures,” he said.

Proposed expansion

Irish Water presented Mr O’Brien with plans to employ additional process optimisation specialists to provide better support to local authority water plant operational staff and to assist with enhancing existing communications and escalation processes.

Irish Water also briefed Mr O’Brien on the proposed expansion of the functions of the Irish Water National Operations Management Centre. This will provide nationwide 24/7 support to operational staff in treatment plans and real-time connections with treatment plant alarms and monitors to ensure that “local authority staff have the back-up they need to ensure the safe and secure delivery of drinking water”.

Mr O’Brien said he highlighted that public confidence in water supply was crucial and the steps that Irish Water and local authorities were now putting in place “are essential to ensure public confidence in our drinking water supply”.

He also noted recent EPA audit reports into the two incidents at the water treatment plants.

“The EPA’s action in pointing out the seriousness of the failures at these two plants was crucial in ensuring that my Department, Irish Water and the local government system responded promptly and appropriately to immediately address the risks of similar incidents happening elsewhere,” he added.

Mr O’Brien said he would review progress across all areas of action again next month.