25 Jun 2022

Ballymore Eustace water plant failure 'potentially put public health at risk' in Kildare and Dublin

August incident not reported to Irish Water for 12 days

Ballymore Eustace water plant failure 'potentially put public health at risk' - Irish Water

File photo

A systems failure at the Ballymore Eustace water treatment plant in Kildare 'potentially put public health at risk', Irish Water said in a statement Friday evening.

The Ballymore Eustace plant treats a major portion of Dublin's drinking water, as well that of as north County Kildare, which is supplied from the Poulaphouca reservoir.

The incident happened on Friday, August 20. According to Irish Water, "the coagulation dosing system in Ballymore Eustace water treatment plant partially failed. The event occurred out of normal business hours. The Cryptosporidium barrier, and to a lesser degree the disinfection barrier, were temporarily compromised. The resultant incident was not initially reported to Irish Water but came to light on investigation of consequential issues at the sludge facility, 12 days after it occurred."

Irish Water says it immediately consulted with the HSE once the incident came to light, but as it had passed "immediate public notification was not required". The Environmental Protection Agency was also notified of the incident.

The Ballymore Eustace plant was audited on September 9 with the EPA, HSE, Irish Water and Dublin City Council, which runs the site, in attendance.

Irish Water said it is carrying out a review of the incident. It has also increased its presence at Ballymore Eustace "to review the escalation and response protocols".

It also said that refresher training is being provided by the Irish Water compliance team to plant engineers and supervisors on how and what water quality incidents should be notified to Irish Water. 

The Kildare incident is one of two recent water treatment plant failures revealed by Irish Water this evening.

An issue at the Creagh plant serving Gorey in mid-August left several members of the local community ill.

Eamon Gallen, general manager, Irish Water, said: “Irish Water’s priority is to protect public health. In both these incidents Irish Water and our partners in the Local Authorities fell short of the standards we set ourselves. We operate a service level agreement where both Irish Water and our partners in the Local Authorities are required to follow all guidelines to ensure drinking water incidents are immediately reported to the EPA and HSE. In both instances, late notification to Irish Water of issues relating to the disinfection process at the plants, potentially put public health at risk.

"Irish Water has engaged again with all Local Authorities on the need to report incidents to allow for timely risk assessments to protect public health. In Gorey and Ballymore Eustace, working with the Local Authorities, additional measures have been put in place to ensure public water supplies are safe to drink. Irish Water is currently engaging via the Workplace Relations Commission with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Local Authorities and Trade Unions as part of talks to create a Single Public Utility (SPU). This incident underlines the importance of creating a SPU where service delivery is controlled and managed by one organisation.

"It is critical that the SPU be progressed as a matter of urgency to transform how water services are structured and delivered. This is the necessary step required to build a world class public water utility and Irish Water is committed to continuing our engagement with all stakeholders through agreed mechanisms and forums in the coming months.”

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