Simmering anger lingers over water safety issues

by Sylvia Pownall

Fingal County Council has demanded an urgent meeting with Irish Water chiefs to discuss ongoing issues at the Leixlip Water Treatment Plant.

Elected members of the local authority resolved to request a face-to-face as they backed a call from Cllr Cathal Boland (Ind) on Monday.

The move comes as 615,000 households faced into a second week of observing a boil water notice – the second issued within the past three weeks.

Fingal’s chief executive, AnnMarie Farrelly, said on Monday that procedures around critical incidents at the plant had been tightened in recent days.

The EPA revealed last week that recommendations it made in a report in March regarding alarm response times had not been implemented.

Ms Farrelly said that while the plant’s capacity and future operation “remains a concern”, the “automatic shut-down has now been implemented at both plants”.

The Leixlip facility is operated by Fingal County Council staff on behalf of Irish Water, which is responsible for funding capital investment and managing upgrade works.

The majority of Fingal’s households and businesses rely on the Leixlip plant for water and both residents and traders have been severely impacted by the issue.

A soup kitchen in Balbriggan was forced to close last week due to a combination of the boil water notice and a disruption to supply.

Speaking ahead of Monday’s full council meeting, Cllr Joe O’Brien (GP) said he was surprised that the issue was not listed on the agenda, and he would be seeking a full debate.

He told Dublin Gazette: “This is a repeated, large-scale public health issue and all 40 Fingal councillors deserve the opportunity to question the responsible officials on behalf of the communities that they represent.”

He said a number of issues must be addressed, including the cause of the problem which prompted the boil water notices, the alarm response time, the difference between the old and new plants, and future risks.

Irish Water has indicated that the old plant requires upgrade works which will take “at least 12 months”.

Cllr O’Brien asked: “Do Fingal County Council and Irish Water have a proposed remediation plan for the old Leixlip treatment plant, to bring it up to the required standard?

“How much will this cost, and has a capital budget been provided?”

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