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  • by Karma Loveday

Ireland's environment watchdog fears for drinking water quality

The Republic of Ireland’s environmental agency has warned that some 52 treatment plans supplying water to over one million people are vulnerable to failure.

The number of people at risk has rocketed in the last year because of problems at Leixlip water treatment plant which supplies Dublin. During 2019, two boil water notices from the publicly-owned company affected more than 600,000 people in the capital.

Overall the quality of public drinking water supplies remains high, according to the latest report from the Republic's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This showed that 99.9% of samples complied with bacterial parameter limits and 99.6 per cent complied with chemical parameter limits.

However, the agency has voiced concern over Irish Water’s delivery of critical improvements to water treatment plants. EPA director general Laura Burke said: "While progress [on infrastructure improvements] is being made, the multiple failures at the Leixlip water treatment plant last year highlight the serious lack of resilience in our water supplies.”

She added “ The growing uncertainty in Irish Water’s planning and delivery of critical improvements to water treatment plants is undermining confidence in the security of supply of safe drinking water.”

In a statement the utility acknowledged  “much more remains to be done. The building, repair and upgrading of Irish Water’s water treatment plants, wastewater treatment plants, water and sewer network will require a multi-billion euro investment programme over many years. The list of projects and programmes is continuously being refined based on new and emerging needs and is subject to budget, technical and environmental constraints, as well as statutory approvals.”

The republic’s new minster with responsibility for the water sector, Darragh O’Brien, is due to meet the company this week to discuss the EPA report.


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