TD calls for urgent action on water quality

by Gazette Reporter

AN urgent meeting of the Housing and Local Government committee is needed to discuss a damning EPA report on drinking water quality, a Sinn Fein TD claims.

Dublin South-West Deputy Eoin O Broin called for the move after the Environmental Protection Agency found that more than 50 water treatment plants supplying 1.1m people are “vulnerable to failure”.

The environmental watchdog group says there is a health risk and criticises Irish Water for “unacceptable” delays in dealing with it.

The EPA said completion dates for planned works to tackle issues such as cryptosporidium, e-coli and chemical contamination had moved from a target of 2021 to 2024 or to dates unknown.

In addition the agency said a slowdown in lead pipe replacement meant Irish Water’s plan to remove all lead from public supplies by 2026 could in fact take 60 years.

Deputy O Broin, who is SF spokesman on water, said: “The Leixlip water treatment plant which suffered multiple failures last year affecting more than 600,000 people has been added to the list.

“Funding must be put in place to prioritise the remediation of these plants. It was concerning to hear that €100m was cut from Irish Water’s capital budget for 2020.

“With other revenue streams also down it is clear the lack of adequate funding is impacting on Irish Water’s capacity to fix the plants.

“An urgent meeting of the Oireachtas Housing, Local Government and Heritage Committee is now required so we can hear from all the stakeholders involved as to what needs to be done to fix the problem.”
EPA director general Laura Burke was highly critical of the way the water company was addressing the deficiencies in treatment plants.

“The growing uncertainty in Irish Water’s planning and delivery of critical improvements to water-treatment plants is undermining confidence in the security of supply of safe drinking water,” she said.

Major issues at the Leixlip plant, which serves more than 600,000 people, were responsible for a surge in the numbers affected by water quality problems in 2019.

In March, a treatment chemical dosing pump failed. In October, a blockage occurred in a chemical dosing line prompting a boil water notice. In November, heavy rain led to a second boil water notice, which lasted for nine days.

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