Incident Management and Emergency Response

Irish Water is committed to providing a safe and reliable water supply, protecting the environment and supporting the growth of homes and businesses.

From time to time unplanned emergency events occur that are beyond our control and which can have an impact on the services we provide. These events could include:

  • Water quality incidents
  • No water/ outage events
  • Water pressure problems
  • Burst main or water leaks
  • Sewer flooding and pollution incidents
  • Water availability, such as water scarcity (in times of drought)
  • Events impacting Irish Water infrastructure such us Severe Weather (wind and/or rainstorms, severe freeze, snowfall and flooding)

We have a robust Incident and Crisis Management Framework in place allowing us to quickly respond to such unplanned and emergency events. It is a critical capability in our business operations, to ensure that:

  • We are prepared to respond to emergency incidents and business disruption by having clear processes, lines of reporting and communication mechanisms
  • All incidents and significant events are managed effectively, minimising the impact of disruption to the services as far as reasonably possible and we proactively work to minimise the likelihood of those events happening in the first place
  • We strive to continually improve how we deal with and manage unplanned events to deliver the best quality of service to our customers.

Incident Management exercises are carried out on selected sites to test the Irish Water resilience to events and how we manage them, to continually learn and improve our incident and emergency preparedness.

In the event of an incident or emergency, our key business priority is to protect public health, the environment and to ensure minimal disruption to service. All efforts are made to ensure that, so far as is reasonably possible, our customers are kept informed throughout the process.

For more information on how to report an incident, what to do in those situations, please check the Help section of the website. You will find:

We are committed to keeping customers informed about their water and wastewater supplies, incidents and events updates across multiple platforms and channels 24/7, for example, via our website, social media channels, our contact centre and media releases.

We encourage customers to engage with us on out Twitter channels @IWCare and @IrishWater, on Facebook and LinkedIn, through our customer care helpline which is open 24/7 on 1800 278 278 and by setting your location on our website.

In the event of an emergency and in line with our commitments under the Customer Handbook, the welfare of our vulnerable customers is our highest priority. There are many ways we can provide you with support during disruption to your water supply. Please register a vulnerable customer to make sure we can give you the support you need.

Incident Management Response

In responding to incidents and emergency situations, we work with the Local Authority, contractors and other delivery partners and in consultation with the HSE, EPA and/ or HSA to:

  • Seek to safeguard the public health, environment and the safety and well-being of both staff and the public and,
  • Seek to ensure the continuity of critical drinking water and wastewater services are maintained for all our customers, and
  • Seek to ensure that the issue/s are rectified as quickly as possible.

In most cases an Incident Management Team is stood up comprising engineering, compliance and communications experts from across Irish Water, using their expertise to work in coordination with our partners to deploy the appropriate incident response. Depending on the situation this can involve deployment of one or more predefined responses such as emergency repairs, network management & rezoning, augmenting extraction, introducing different levels of restrictions and/ or coordinating alternative water supplies. The response is always prioritised to ensure service disruption is kept to a minimum, and customers are kept up to date on the progress.

Crisis Response

For certain situations where the incident or event may require further escalation, Irish Water will invoke its Crisis Management Team. Examples of where this may occur are typically situations that require a higher level of coordination and engagement with a wider range of stakeholders. This could be dependent on the complexity of the solution required, the extent of the emergency (if it is national as opposed to a localised issue), the level of population affected and the expected duration of the disruption.

The Crisis Management team includes representatives from our Senior Management Team, which facilitates a strategic response to the incident by providing quick decision making and support to the Incident Management Teams and first responders. The Crisis Management team has a key role in the engagement and communication with stakeholders like our Regulators (i.e. CRU, EPA), other Emergency Response Agencies (i.e. Civil Defence, etc.), National Response Coordination Groups (i.e. for Major Emergencies). This all helps to ensure a coordinated response and that all parties are kept up to date with the progress in resolving the situation.

Our Communications and Customer Operations Teams are part of both the Incident and Crisis Management Teams and are key to ensuring information of the incident and updates are provided to all affected customers.

Supply – Severe Weather events (including storms, wind & rain and Drought events)

As part of our overall preparedness we maintain event management plans and procedures to effectively manage severe weather. These include winter events, such as wind, rain and/ or snow storms, flooding, and dry weather conditions that can lead to water scarcity and drought.

We have Contingency Plans for our Water Treatment Plant sites, Reservoir sites, Wastewater sites and Networks. Water Scarcity Action Plans are in place to manage water scarcity issues, as well as long-term planning to manage overall water resource availability in the years ahead.

In conjunction with MET Eireann we closely monitor seasonal weather conditions, trend weather patterns and available water resources at any given time. We work with our key stakeholders to manage the availability of water within each of our operational areas.

If we must issue a restriction or prohibition on water use, such as water conservation order or night/ daytime restrictions on water use, we’ll advise customers of our plans.

We also ask customers to help us manage seasonal conditions by following our guidance during communications campaigns such as “Be Winter Ready”, “Water Conservation”, “Think Before You Flush”.