IRISH Water is set to undertake a site-specific review of three water treatment plants in Cork in the next two weeks following the recent incidents at water treatment plants elsewhere in the country.
In a letter to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage last week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outlined two serious incidents in recent weeks that occurred in drinking water plants serving parts of Dublin City, served by the Ballymore Eustace water treatment plant and in Gorey, Co Wexford.
This included, in the case of Gorey, illnesses detected by the HSE in the community served by that water supply.
These incidents have been rectified and the water supply from the two plants is now safe to drink.
Following the incidents, Irish Water said it is currently engaging with all 31 Local Authorities on the need to report incidents to allow for timely risk assessments to protect public health.
“Where appropriate, Irish Water will also assign personnel to sites.
“As part of the Drinking Water Safety Plan approach, Irish Water will audit all water treatment plants in due course.”
There are three water treatment plants in Cork that will be part of the 20 being reviewed initially.
These are Inniscarra water treatment plant, Lee Road water treatment plant and Glashaboy water treatment plant.
“There are a total of 175 water facilities in Co Cork.
“However, these range from large treatment plants that service thousands of people, to boreholes that service small communities.
“Irish Water delivers clean drinking water to more than 3.3 million people across the country every day.
“The protection of public health is a priority for Irish Water and 99.9% of the water we produce meets or exceeds the required standards and is safe to drink.
“That includes customers supplied by in County Cork,” the spokesperson told.
Irish Water said water samples are regularly tested for a range of parameters to ensure they are compliant with the European and Irish Drinking Water Regulations.
“We rely on sampling and alarms to maintain high quality standards, which is why when something goes wrong, it should be reported immediately so that we can take corrective actions.
“Not every elevated level is an immediate risk to health but it can indicate that there may be an improvement required to the treatment process at the water treatment plant.
“Where an issue is identified Irish Water immediately notifies the EPA and if necessary consults with the HSE.
“Drinking water advisory notices such as a Boil Water Notice or a Do Not Consume Notice may be issued on the advice of the HSE if water is considered unsafe to drink.
Following the incidents in Gorey and Ballymore Eustace, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien met with the Irish Water Managing Director and officials and both the Chief Executives of Dublin City Council and Wexford County Council.
The meeting also included a representative from the County and City Managers Association on behalf of all local authorities.
“Ultimately, as we all know, there are limitations to the current working arrangements between Irish Water and Local Authorities and it is impacting on the delivery of services,” the Minister said, commenting after the meeting.
“A process is underway in the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to deliver the transformation of this service but I am also requesting that Irish Water and local authorities to take further steps to improve Irish Water control of all water service plants in the immediate term pending the implementation of the agreed longer term operational and staffing arrangements.”