Carrying out emergency works to protect supply in Belvelly area

Irish Water, working in partnership with Cork County Council, reminds householders and businesses in the Belvelly area of Great Island that the Do Not Consume notice remains in place for 76 water supply connections.

This restriction has been in place since 16 August, having been temporarily lifted in November for four days before re-issuing the notice on 16 November. The restriction on the supply is implemented following consultation with the Health Service Executive (HSE) in order to protect public health due to sustained iron exceedances and low residual chlorine.

Eliminating this water quality risk

Irish Water acknowledges the significant impact this Do Not Consume notice has on the residents and businesses in Belvelly. In order to rectify the situation as quickly as possible, Irish Water and Cork County Council have implemented a number of short term interventions to alleviate the exceedances.

On completion of these interim works, a period of clear sample results will be required to have confidence that the measures are effective and the restriction can be lifted. In parallel, we are also accelerating a capital project to construct new pipelines and eliminate this water quality risk for the longer term.

Background to the issue

The Belvelly area is supplied with water from Tibbotstown Water Treatment Plant. Whilst Tibbotstown produces safe, clean drinking water, the connections at Belvelly are supplied via a long cast iron main, 8 inches in diameter, which runs along Fota Road before crossing onto Great Island. This water main was originally intended only for the transmission of water from Tibbotstown to the town of Cobh.

During the intervening years however, connections were made off the transmission main, while the supply to Cobh and Great Island was largely transferred to the Glashaboy Water Supply Scheme. The 8 inch cast iron pipework is not fit for purpose as a distribution main and this has resulted in iron exceedances and consequential low chlorine residual in the Belvelly area.

Short-term measures

Irish Water and Cork County Council have implemented a number of emergency measures to alleviate this risk to public health, including:

  • Continuous pipeline scouring and schedule of manual mains flushing
  • Installation of automatic flushing valves
  • Installation of chlorine booster station on Fota Road
  • Installation of three automatic chlorine analysers on network to optimise chlorine dosing

Furthermore, the construction of a new treatment process at Tibbotstown is underway to adjust the pH of the water. This is intended to reduce the reaction with the pipe material and limit iron precipitating into the supply. This is a significant component of the short-term measures being implemented and it is planned that the process will be commissioned during January.

Lifting the restriction

Consideration to lifting the restriction will be carried out in consultation with, and on the advice of, the HSE with whom we are liaising on an ongoing basis. On completion of the short-term interventions, in particular the additional treatment process at Tibbotstown, results of water samples will be continually monitored.

A period of sustained results will be required to give confidence that the interim measures are effective. It is expected that consideration of lifting the restriction will take place during February.

Long term solution for the area

The long term solution is to decommission the 8 inch cast iron main and re-arrange the distribution pipework in the affected area with water supplied from Glashaboy. In parallel to implementing the short-term measures, Irish Water confirms funding is in place and the design and planning necessary for these works is being accelerated.

This investment will eliminate the water quality risk associated with the cast iron pipework. Construction is planned to commence in the middle of 2019 with completion of the project before the end of the year.
“The Tibbotstown Water Treatment plant provides safe drinking water to a large area. Unfortunately, the age and material of the supply pipe to Belvelly is causing significant water quality issues with high iron levels being detected. When originally built to supply water to Cobh, this cast iron pipeline was intended for the transmission of water. However, as the supply to Cobh was changed and with connections to the main being made over the decades, this pipe became part of the distribution system, for which it wasn’t designed.” said Neil Smyth, Irish Water’s Operations Lead for Cork.
“To address this legacy issue, we have been working as a priority to install several additional treatment processes to protect the supply and lift the restriction as early as possible. At the same time, we are progressing the design for the long term solution which is to re-arrange the supply network to Belvelly and abandon the old cast iron main. Irish Water apologises to the community and businesses in the area affected and appreciate the significant inconvenience and concern that this water quality restriction brings. We are endeavouring to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and wish to thank those affected for their patience and co-operation.”
Do Not Consume Notice remains in place until further notice.

This water should not be used for 

  • drinking
  • drinks made with water
  • food preparation, washing or cooking of food
  • brushing of teeth, or 
  • making of ice
  • In particular, pregnant women should not drink this water
  • This water should not be used for making up infant formula for bottled fed infants.  An alternative source of water should be used. If using bottled water, the bottled water should be boiled first (to sterilise) and avoid bottled water labelled as ‘Natural Mineral Water’ as it can have higher levels of sodium and other minerals. It can be used if no other water is available, for as short a time as possible, as it is important to keep babies hydrated
  • The water can be used for personal hygiene, bathing, flushing toilets, laundry and washing of utensils
  • 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
  • Discard ice cubes in fridges and freezers and filtered water in fridges
  • Please note that boiling the water will not be sufficient to make it suitable to drink

Alternative water supplies

Tankered water is available for collection from Cois Fota Estate, Belvelly. Customers are reminded to use their own containers when taking water from the tankers and to boil water before consumption as a precautionary measure.

 “We acknowledge the impact that this Do Not Consume Notice has on local residents, and we thank them for their patience and cooperation at this time. We are endeavouring to keep the community informed through the media, letter drops and engagement with local councillors and TDs.” said Neil Smyth.

More information

For more information and additional advice, please call our 24-hour customer care line at 1850 278 278.


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