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Crews continue with works to improve water quality and supply in Cork City

18 October 2023

Uisce Éireann continues to work to improve water quality and supply for homes and businesses in Cork City with a further programme of flushing works set to get underway tomorrow.

From tomorrow, Wednesday 18 October, network flushing will be undertaken for approximately two weeks and will work through Old Youghal Road, Murmount, Montenotte, Merrion Court and surrounding areas. The flushing works that we have undertaken on the network is a key part of our action plan to address intermittent discolouration issues impacting a small number of customers in Cork City.

Water services engineers and drinking water compliance specialists continue to closely monitor reservoirs that supply the city and have made operational adjustments which have reduced instances of discolouration. In addition to this, we know from previous years that the changes in seasons and weather can be challenging in terms of managing water quality in Cork and can impact the raw water source requiring adjustments to the treatment process, which is a standard practice.  If network improvement works increase, or when we have weather events, sub-zero temperatures causing more bursts, we will see a slight increase in instances of discolouration again.

Uisce Éireann thanks customers for their patience as we work to reduce instances of discoloration across Cork City, and regret any inconvenience caused. Ongoing testing and analysis of the water supply continues, in conjunction with extensive monitoring across the city’s water network to ensure the water is compliant with drinking water regulations and is safe to drink. The results of these ongoing tests are shared with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

In general, issues such as discolouration, bursts and leakage are unfortunately commonplace when dealing with an aged network such as Cork City’s. This is a national issue and there is no easy solution. There are approximately 600km of watermains in Cork City, 60% to 70% of which are made from cast iron and approximately 100 years old, dating back to the 1920s. Due to the age and deteriorating condition of the pipes, they are prone to bursts and leakage. In old cast iron mains, sediment can become dislodged during repair or upgrade works and can occasionally be carried through to customers’ taps, leading to the water to appear brown or orange.

In the short term, Uisce Éireann continues with works to proactively flush the network in targeted areas across Cork City where reports of discolouration have been received. Areas are prioritised based on customer feedback and reports received by our customer care team. To date, six phases of planned network flushing have been undertaken to reduce instances of discolouration impacting customers’ water supply. This involves isolating small sections of the network and flushing them of any dislodged sediment.

In recent weeks, based on reports of discolouration, flushing has been carried at the out in the following areas: Cathedral Road, Baker Road, Churchfield Avenue, Blarney Street, Strawberry Hill, Mount Saint Joseph’s Drive, Sundays Well Avenue, Gurranabraher, Saint Anthonys Road and Boyce Street. The Cork City Water Quality Working Group, with expert representatives and engineers from Uisce Éireann and Cork City Council, continue to meet regularly and monitor the situation.

Uisce Éireann continues to invest in the water infrastructure across Cork with a number of multi-million-euro projects underway to provide a safe, secure and reliable water supply to homes and businesses.

Customers experiencing water quality issues are advised to contact the Uisce Éireann Customer Care helpline, open 24/7 on 1800 278 278 or via X (formerly Twitter) @IWCare, so the issue can be logged and investigated. Each complaint is actioned and gives us a better understanding of any ongoing issues.

In the event of discolouration, running the tap for several minutes will usually restore water to a clear colour. Uisce Éireann continues to advise customers not to drink discoloured water. For more information and advice, please visit our Discoloured Water page.

Uisce Éireann is responsible for delivering public drinking water and wastewater services for the people of Ireland. We are committed to enabling communities to thrive by continuously upgrading and developing critical infrastructure to support sustainable growth and development, providing safe drinking water, and enhancing the environment. To find out more visit our website.