Irish Water carried out a routine health and safety audit of the Kilkee Pump Station, which is over 40 years old, in November 2016. A number of issues were identified in particular the surge vessels were found to be in need of upgrading.
Due to the complex nature of these works some elements have been completed but the full programme of works will take a couple of more months to be finalised.
In December 2016 there was an issue with a storm rising main at the station which burst. As a result a precautionary do not swim notice was imposed on the beach. While works continue to upgrade the pump station, the notice was lifted in consultation with the HSE and Clare County Council in May of this year.
Due to operational electrical issues in the Kilkee Pump Station early on Wednesday morning last week, July 26, this caused the pumps to be out of service for a number of hours. This led to a discharge of wastewater to the Victoria stream in Kilkee for a period of time. The HSE and the EPA were notified and a precautionary bathing prohibition notice was put in place by the HSE for Kilkee beach to protect public health.
The pump station resumed operations at 11am on Wednesday but the bathing restriction remained in place until today to allow for a sampling programme.
This issue has been resolved and the pump station is fully operational. Irish Water confirm that from 11am on Wednesday, July 26, no further discharges arising from this incident have taken place in Kilkee. Bacterial bathing water testing undertaken by Clare County Council has demonstrated that the bacterial water quality has been restored in the Kilkee area.
Both Irish Water and Clare County Council are aware of electrical issues at the Kilkee Pump Station. These are being addressed with the ESB as part of the ongoing upgrade works. An old generator, over 30 years old, which was in extremely poor condition, was taken off site in May to see if it could be refurbished. However, this was not possible and the procurement process to purchase a new generator commenced. An order to purchase will be issued in the next couple of days.
A temporary generator has been in place since last Friday, July 28 and is fully operational. The pump station has been manned on a 24 hour basis since last Thursday night. The temporary generator will remain in place until the permanent generator is installed.
Irish Water would like to apologise to locals and visitors to the Kilkee area for this recent incident which is now resolved and assure them that the programme of necessary upgrade works to the existing Kilkee Pump Station which were identified during a routine health and safety audit last November will continue for another couple of months. Once complete the pump station should be resilient to normal weather events.
Irish Water is available to meet members of the local Chamber of Commerce and bring them on a tour of the pump station to demonstrate the problems and highlight the upgrade works that have been completed to date. The utility has been trying to get in touch with the Chamber today to explain the ongoing works with expenditure to date close to €0.5 million having been invested in upgrading the pump station. Irish Water also wishes to explain to the Chamber that the latest restriction notice is unrelated to the pump station or Irish Water and is as a result of recent heavy rainfall.
Clare County Council has announced this evening that a revised bathing water prohibition notice will be issued for Kilkee as excess rainfall has occurred during the last 24 hours in the Kilkee area. Clare County Council, on the advice of the Health Service Executive (HSE), has announced that due to the possibility of elevated levels of bacteria in the bathing water arising from heavy rainfall over the weekend, swimming is prohibited at Kilkee beach. Further sampling is scheduled to take place to assess the bathing water quality and Clare County Council will liaise with the HSE the in coming days when results are available from this testing This is not associated with the pump station issue of last week.