Notice issued following detection of cryptosporidium in treated water from plant

Following advice from the Health Service Executive, Irish Water, working in partnership with Sligo County Council, has issued a Boil Water Notice on the Lough Talt Regional Water Supply Scheme. This has been issued following the detection of cryptosporidium in the treated water coming from the plant after a routine test.

A population of approximately 13,000 people are affected including the towns of Tubbercurry and Ballymote and a large rural hinterland including the villages of Annagh, Aclare, Curry, Lavagh, Ballanacarrow, Carrowneden, Kilmacteige and Coolaney. A map of the scheme will be made available on this site as well as the Sligo County Council’s website. The Boil Water Notice also includes consumers supplied by the Ogham Group Water Scheme and the following areas in Co, Mayo: Cloontia, Doocastle and Quarryfield. 

Public health is our number one priority

Commenting Seamus Granahan, Regional Operations Manager from Irish Water, said “Public health is our number one priority and it is imperative that people adhere to the boil water notice. We will be contacting vulnerable customers supplied by this scheme who have self-declared to Irish Water directly by telephone. Irish Water sincerely apologise for the inconvenience that will be caused and we will work closely with local stakeholders and elected representatives to keep the local community updated.”

Irish Water will be carrying out weekly sampling at multiple sites in the scheme with a view to getting the Boil Water Notice lifted if there are sufficient clear samples over a number of weeks. However, if further positive results for cryptosporidium are confirmed it is likely that the Boil Water Notice would be extended until additional treatment process barriers are put in place. This will involve the construction of new water treatment plant for which planning permission will be required.

Irish Water is liaising with the HSE and an incident management team has been set up to give full attention to this incident.

Water must be boiled for:

  • Drinking
  • Drinks made with water
  • Preparation of salads and similar foods, which are not cooked prior to eating
  • Brushing of teeth
  • Making of ice
  • Discard ice cubes in fridges and freezers and filtered water in fridges. Make ice from cooled boiled water.

What actions should be taken:

  • Use water prepared for drinking when preparing foods that will not be cooked (e.g. washing salads).
  • Water can be used for personal hygiene, bathing and flushing of toilets but not for brushing teeth or gargling.
  • Boil water by bringing to a vigorous, rolling boil (e.g. with an automatic kettle) and allow to cool. Cover and store in a refrigerator or cold place. Water from the hot tap is not safe to drink. Domestic water filters will not render water safe to drink.
  • Caution should be taken when bathing children to ensure that they do not swallow the bathing water.
  • Prepare infant feeds with water that has been brought to the boil once and cooled. Do not use water that has been re-boiled several times. Bottled water can be used to make up infant formula. All bottled water, with the exception of natural mineral water, is regulated to the same standard as drinking water. It is best not to use bottled water labelled as ‘Natural Mineral Water’ as it can have high levels of sodium (salt) and other minerals, although it rarely does. ‘Natural Mineral Water’ can be used if no other water is available, for as short a time as possible, as it is important to keep babies hydrated. If bottled water is used to make up infant formula it should be boiled once (rolling boil for 1 minute), and cooled in the normal way.

Anyone suffering from diarrhoea for more than two days should contact their general practitioner and provide a stool sample for testing. They should continue to drink plenty of boiled or bottled water.

Great care should be taken with boiled water to avoid burns and scalds as accidents can easily happen, especially with children.

Irish Water recognised in 2014 that the Lough Talt supply needed more advanced treatment to meet both risk of Cryptosporidium contamination and compliance with the specified limits for Trihalomethanes (THMs).

In July 2015 Irish Water lodged a planning application with Sligo County Council which was refused on the basis of the conservation of Lough Talt for reasons of protected habitat. Irish Water subsequently appealed that decision to An Bord Pleanála who also refused the application in April 2017.  Having consulted with the planning authorities and the EU Commission in relation to the Habitats Directive, Irish Water is working with key stakeholders including the National Parks and Wildlife Service to progress a planning application under the ‘Imperative Reasons for Over-riding Public Interest (IROPI)’ mechanism. Irish Water hopes to be able to resubmit the revised planning application supported by the IROPI documentation in the next two months.

In the event that planning permission is successful Irish Water would expect to begin construction on a site by early 2019 and have a fully functioning plant by early to mid-2020. In view of this timetable Irish Water is looking at what further measures it might be able to take in the interim that might be able to address the cryptosporidium risk in consultation with the HSE and the EPA.

More information and advice

More information and advice is available on our Boil Water Notice section. You can also call our customer care team on Callsave 1850 278 278 for any queries on this notice.

View map of Boil Water Notice area

Mayo, Sligo

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