Works prioritised to manage intermittent discolouration issues impacting areas of Cork City

15 February 2023

Uisce Éireann, in partnership with Cork City Council, is progressing with works to manage intermittent discolouration issues impacting the water supply in some areas of Cork City. 

There is approximately 600km of watermains in Cork City, 60%-70% of which is made from cast iron and is up to 100 years old, dating back to the 1920s. Due to the age and deteriorating condition of the pipes, they are prone to bursts and leaks, resulting in low pressure, water outages and discolouration. Old cast iron mains also typically suffer from sediment becoming dislodged during repair or maintenance works, which can travel to customers’ taps causing the water to appear brown or orange in colour. Uisce Éireann is investing in infrastructure improvement works in the region across a number of multi-million euro projects. The scale of improvement works can also be a contributing factor in sediment becoming dislodged, leading to temporary discolouration of the water supply.

Uisce Éireann is treating this matter with the utmost priority. A safe and secure water supply for Cork City is a top priority for Uisce Éireann and we have set up a working group with representatives from across the business, in partnership with Cork City Council Water Services, to address this issue. While sampling and monitoring of the water supply has been ongoing, it will now be intensified in affected areas across the network to gain a greater understanding and further safeguard customers, ensuring water continues to be compliant with drinking water regulations and remains safe to drink. Should any instances of non-compliance be found, the results are shared with the EPA and the HSE. Flushing used to clear networks of sediment or discolouration is planned for key areas of the network and is currently underway in the Douglas area. Uisce Éireann will continue to flush areas identified as being problematic for discolouration.  

Operations Lead for Uisce Éireann Pat Britton said: “I would like to thank customers for their patience as we work hard to address the intermittent discolouration issues in Cork City. Safeguarding the water supply and protecting public health is a top priority for Uisce Éireann and we would like to reassure customers that the water supply serving the city is safe to drink. The upgrade works ongoing are the largest ever undertaken in the city and will provide a safer and more reliable water supply for generations to come.

In the event of discolouration, usually running the tap for several minutes will restore water to a clear colour. Uisce Éireann continues to advise customers not to drink discoloured water. Each and every complaint is fully investigated. Customers with queries or concerns about the quality of their drinking water should contact the Uisce Éireann customer care helpline, open 24/7 on 1800 278 278 or via Twitter @IWCare. A dedicated section on discolouration with helpful information and advice can be found on the Discoloured water section of our website.

Uisce Éireann is responsible for the delivery of all public water and wastewater services in Ireland. We are committed to continuously upgrading and developing critical infrastructure to support the growth needed in housing and across our economy, while protecting the environment and safeguarding water supplies.