Call to resolve 'at-risk' drinking water supply issues in Cork ASAP

Call to resolve 'at-risk' drinking water supply issues in Cork ASAP

The EPA has published its annual report on Drinking Water Quality in Public Supplies for 2021, which found that overall, Irish drinking water quality remains high, with compliance at over 99.7%.

THE Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said that issues with ‘at-risk’ drinking water supplies across Cork must be resolved “as soon as possible”.

Seven Cork supplies including Cork City are now on its remedial action list (RAL), the most of any county in Ireland.

The EPA has published its annual report on Drinking Water Quality in Public Supplies for 2021, which found that overall, Irish drinking water quality remains high, with compliance at over 99.7%.

However, the environmental agency highlighted that the number of public water supplies on its RAL increased during 2021 from 46 to 52. An update to the RAL in September shows a further increase, up to 57 listed supplies.

Cork City is one of the largest supplies on the RAL, affecting just over 87,000 people, and is joined by six other Cork water supplies in Killavullen, Mitchelstown, Castletownbere, Glashaboy, Whiddy Island, and Whitegate.

The seven Cork water supplies are currently on the RAL list as the EPA has identified them as ‘at-risk’ drinking water supplies that “must be improved to ensure that water supplies continue to be safe to drink and are also secure in the future”.

Cork is currently the county with the highest number of water supplies in the RAL, and has over 125,000 people relying on ‘at-risk’ supplies.

Noel Byrne, Programme Manager with the Office of Environmental Enforcement in the EPA, said that the EPA would like to see plans in place for all Cork supplies in the RAL, and issues with the seven supplies resolved “as soon as possible”.

“There’s seven on the list of at risk supplies in Cork. Two new ones have gone on this September, Killavullen and Whiddy Island… We need to see these brought to resolution as soon as possible because the longer you leave plants ‘at risk’, there’s greater opportunity for something to go wrong,” he said.

Four Cork supplies on the RAL currently have no proposed action plan submitted by Irish Water. Mr Byrne added that the EPA is “really calling on Irish Water to put a plan in place for all the supplies on the RAL”.

Mr Byrne said the EPA hopes there will be positive news for Cork City, which has been on the RAL since 2008, following recent upgrades to the Lee Road Water Treatment Plant.

He said that the plant is currently in “commissioning phase”, as the EPA is examining whether it is now operating satisfactorily enough to remove Cork city from the RAL next year.

“We’re hoping that if everything goes well with the plant and the commissioning, that [Cork city] will be removed from the remedial action list at that point.

“Which is a very positive thing for the people of Cork city,” he said.

In response to the EPA’s 2021 report published this week, Margaret Attridge of Irish Water said it will take “a number of years and high levels of investment” to bring public water supplies to the “standard we all strive for”, adding that Irish Water is confident it is on track to achieve this.

“Public health is our top priority and we will continue to work in partnership with our stakeholders, including the EPA, to ensure world class drinking water supplies for all our customers,” she said.

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