Dáil told boil water notice to be lifted by the weekend

Government criticised over decision not to send tankers for 600,000 affected people

A woman  stocks up on drinking water at a Lidl store in Leixlip. Phootgraph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

A woman stocks up on drinking water at a Lidl store in Leixlip. Phootgraph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

 

The boil water notice should be lifted by the weekend for most of the 600,000 people affected, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has told the Dáil.

Mr Murphy said a much smaller group of people was likely to be affected over the weekend, following the notice on Tuesday night to 600,000 homes and businesses in Dublin, Kildare and Meath.

He rejected a call by Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary to re-consider a decision not to issue water tankers.

Mr Murphy said tankers were not needed because it is a boil water notice and people can boil their water.

Earlier, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the warning for people to boil their water was a precautionary notice. He said it would be a matter of days before the matter was rectified and declined to state when the all-clear would be given.

“I don’t want to give a date I cannot stand over,” Mr Varadkar said.

He said his own home and family were hit by the warning.

Mr Varadkar said the problem arose on Monday when a flaw at the treatment plant in Leixlip allowed untreated water into the system.

Mr Calleary said the latest notice from Irish Water said it would take a few more days but did not give a date or time and the website crashed when people sought further information. It was referring people to maps on its website that were difficult to read. “When an event like this happens their communications strategy needs to be robust enough to give people vital information when they need it,” he said. “It does not suggest that Irish Water has the contingency plans to deal with a situation like this.”

Mr Varadkar acknowledged that Irish Water’s website crashed under pressure of use after the company advised people to consult it on Tuesday to seek further information. He said the utility’s first obligation was to protect public health.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was the most extensive boil water notice issued by Irish Water and asked if the incident at the Leixlip treatment plant last March was connected to this.

She said the March incident led to a service audit being ordered by the Environment Protection Agency.

Ms McDonald said the problem was a cause of worry as well as an inconvenience for elderly people, young children and those who were ill.

“This is a matter of real stress and worry,” she said.

The Taoiseach said the problem was rectified. But three “all-clear tests” had to be achieved before the boil notice could be lifted.