4th March 2016 - Irish Water is advising customers that the Boil Water Notice on the Whitegate/Dower Rural Water Supply Scheme must remain in place for a further 6 to 8 months. Ground surrounding the water treatment plant is water-logged due to record rainfall in recent months and all rainfall is now reaching the water treatment plant from the surrounding catchment area very quickly. The adverse weather conditions are leading to high turbidity, or cloudiness, in the water supplying the water treatment plant.

Irish Water monitors water quality on a continuous basis as it enters the Whitegate water treatment plant and one of the parameters measured is turbidity. If the turbidity of the water entering the plant is above an allowable level, the plant automatically shuts down as full treatment can not be guaranteed. When there is the potential for water not to be fully treated, Irish Water engages with the Health Service Executive (HSE) to seek their advice. High turbidity levels have occurred at Whitegate over the last couple of months and, on the advice of the Health Service Executive (HSE), during these periods, three separate precautionary boil water notices were already imposed in the interest of public health to eliminate the risk of infection.

Whitegate Water Treatment Plant supplies 10,000 customers in Whitegate with 9 million litres of water every day. Raw water is sourced from the Dower River, which is a largely underground river that rises to ground level through a cave at the treatment plant in Whitegate. Irish Water has completed catchment and hydrogeological assessments at the water treatment plant and is proposing a short term solution to carry out upgrade works that mitigate the impact of future high rainfall events. These upgrade works will take between six and eight months to complete. Irish Water is also working on a longer term solution involving rationalisation of the water network in Whitegate, connecting it to a more reliable source. This project will take a number of years to complete and will be subject to approval of funding by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER).

On the advice of the HSE, the precautionary boil water notice will therefore remain in place for 6 to 8 months until short term upgrade works are completed at Whitegate. Irish Water wishes to apologise to our customers affected by this issue and reassure them that they will not be liable to charges for drinking water supply while the Boil Water Notice remains in place.

Commenting on the update, Aisling Buckley, Regional Information Officer at Irish Water said, 'The untreated water from the Dower River supplying 10,000 customers has been adversely affected by the recent bad weather. Although the Whitegate area has experienced rainfall four times higher than last winter, there needs to be a permanent robust water supply and adequate water treatment processes in place, that are resilient to adverse weather conditions. Many Irish Water customers across the country are dependent on water supplies that are unreliable in terms of water quality and that is why Irish Water, as part of its Capital Investment Plan, is working to rationalise the water network to ensure a safe and secure water supply for all.'

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