Irish Water, Ireland’s national water utility responsible for providing and developing water and waste water services throughout Ireland, today welcomed the publication of The EPA Drinking Water Report 2013. The report provides a clear picture of the challenges facing Irish Water in terms of the inadequacy of a significant proportion of our treatment plants supplying drinking water.

The report highlights the current situation where 23,297 people are required to boil their water before drinking. This is unacceptable in a modern, developed country. Irish Water has prioritised the elimination of boil water notices and has accelerated investing in this. In 2014 and 2015 Irish Water will spend almost €20M on 6 new plants in County Roscommon alone which will remove over 17,000 people off Boil Water Notices by April of this year. A further major scheme for North East Roscommon is at tender and scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016, providing a modern high quality supply for 6,000 people currently on Boil Water Notice.

The report also highlights the issue of lead in water which affects approximately 150,000 homes in Ireland and a large number of public buildings built more than 40 years ago, where lead was the normal plumbing material. This is also an unacceptable situation which requires investment to remove the health risk. This issue is largely a property owner issue as the bulk of the lead is located on the private property side. However, Irish Water has a responsibility for public side lead and in that regard has developed a draft lead strategy which involves the removal of public lead water service pipes. Irish Water is also recommending the use of ortho-phosphate dosing which has proved effective internationally in addressing the health risks posed by lead in drinking water. By depositing a coating on the pipe, it reduces the levels of lead being dissolved into the water. This strategy is subject to the agreement of the EPA, HSE and Commission for Energy Regulation (CER).

Irish Water took over responsibility for public water services in January 2014, immediately after the period covered by this report. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the strengths and the shortcomings in Ireland’s drinking water supply and the scale of the work and investment required to ensure every household in Ireland on the public network has clean drinking water.

Irish Water is responsible for 855 water treatment plants that supply over 1.6 billion litres of water every day to 3.3 million people. The vast majority of Ireland’s population has a reliable supply of clean drinking water with over 98% of the water supplied meeting drinking water standards.

The problems identified in today’s report by the EPA highlights the critical need to invest in upgrading the public water network and the need to prioritise that investment at a national level to deliver the most urgently needed improvements to the communities most affected. An increased level of investment is required to ensure Ireland has a public water service that is fit for purpose and meeting the needs of all communities. Irish Water invested over €340m in 2014 and intends investing over €420m in 2015 to fix the infrastructure and deliver an improved service for customers. 

Commenting on today’s report, Jerry Grant, Head of Assets, Irish Water said; “Improving drinking water quality is the number one investment priority for Irish Water. Building new treatment plants and upgrading existing infrastructure requires a greater level of investment. It is unacceptable that we have communities on long term boil water notices and infrastructure that is too easily susceptible to changing weather conditions.”

Irish Water is encouraging people who have not yet confirmed their details to do so at water.ie or LoCall 1890 448 448. By confirming details with Irish Water customers can ensure they receive the correct bill for their household and can avail of the Government’s €100 Water Conservation Grant. Households not on the public service network should also confirm their details with Irish Water to ensure they do not receive a bill and can also avail of the Government’s grant.


 

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