Problems with Dublin regional water system leave consumers high and dry

Algal bloom at Roundwood reservoir has left some without supply for 15 days

Continuing problems with the Dublin regional water supply system have resulted in some homes being temporarily “uninhabitable” while some businesses have been forced to remain closed in recent days.

The Dublin water supply system which serves the four local authorities in the capital and parts of Kildare and Wicklow has been operating below demand levels on a number of occasions in recent weeks, as engineers continue to battle an algal bloom problem at Roundwood, in Co Wicklow.

As capacity at the Roundwood water treatment plant drops to some 50 per cent when the bloom is being cleared, homes in parts of the region have lost supply up to 15 days' supply, while last week businesses in Enniskerry closed for a number of days because they had no water.

No leeway
According to Dublin City Council, the system is operating at near capacity, therefore the removal of part of the Roundwood plant means production in the region is occasionally below demand.

The council says production capacity of the system is some 563 million litres per day, with average daily demand very close behind, at 542 million litres per day.


The production capacity at Roundwood itself is said to be between 66 million litres and 75 million litres per day, but three days last week this dropped below about 40 million litres per day, according to figures provided to Andrew Doyle TD. Last week in the Dáil fellow Wicklow TDs Simon Harris and Stephen Donnelly quizzed Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan about the problem, which they said had been ongoing for months.

They said it was causing severe hardship to householders and businesses, while also putting a severe constraint on development throughout the region.

Mr Harris said there were local reports that the problem would not be fixed in the foreseeable future, a situation that was unacceptable.

Mr Hogan said he was aware of the problem and the positioning of water tankers at a range of locations across north Wicklow.

His department’s engineers were providing support to Dublin and Wicklow local authorities to resolve the matter, he said.

Last April Dublin City Council passed an emergency motion calling for urgent action on the problem and pledging “best practice” communications to affected householders.

However, householder Conor Fitzsimmons of Delgany in Co Wicklow said his water supply is interrupted without notice.

Mr Fitzsimmons, who is an engineer, said homes at Tooman Road at the Willow Grove had been without water for up to 15 days.

He said he was calling for pressure to be reduced to Dublin city overnight to allow a build-up of pressure to upland areas elsewhere.

“It would be better that 100 per cent of us got a supply at some time of the day, rather than 90 per cent got a supply all day and 10 per cent got none, he said.

Peter Norton, who runs Poppies Country Cooking in Enniskerry, said his was one of a number of businesses forced to close last week. Enquiries to Wicklow County Council, he said, were met with the response that notices were posted on the council's website.

“We just don’t know when we will have water to provide toilets or to make tea,” he said.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist