Upgrade water treatment plants, warn experts

THREE major treatment plants which provide water to more than 500,000 people need to be modernised to secure supplies, environmental experts warn.

The Lee Road facility, on a flood plain in Cork, must be moved to higher ground; an unstable 150-year-old tunnel from the Vartry reservoir in the Wicklow mountains should be replaced; and the Staleen plant in Co Meath needs to be overhauled.

The Environmental Prot-ection Agency (EPA) named the three sites on a remedial action list that plans works for 240 facilities.

The quality of Ireland’s drinking water supply is improving but 100 public water schemes are still on a remedial list for action going into the new year, according to a report published yesterday.

The EPA’s Provision and Quality of Drinking Water in Ireland report for 2010 shows that instances of E coli in water supplies have fallen, but concerns remain over 12% of private group water schemes that were contaminated at least once during the year.

The report also claims just two local authorities are fully explaining to the public information about the quality of drinking water.

Overall, the EPA said it was satisfied that for the first time, large public drinking water supplies in Ireland are showing similar compliance levels for E coli to England, Wales and the Netherlands.

According to the report:

*E coli was detected at least once in 20 of 929 public water supplies — down from 27 in 2009.

nWhile 12% of private group water schemes were contaminated at least once last year the number of private schemes where E coli was detected fell from 87 in 2009 to 56 last year.

*The EPA identified 339 supplies in need of remedial action in early 2008 and placed them on a remedial action list, with over 100 supplies still requiring the completion of works.

Deputy director general Dara Lynott said remedial works targeted by the EPA in 2008 will be complete in over 80% of supplies by the end of this year and work would continue on tackling any supplies that do not meet the highest standards next year.

In addition, 43 new boil water notices and seven new water restriction notices were put in place by 16 Water Services Authorities last year, many due to adverse weather.

Gerard O’Leary, the programme manager for the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement, said that while 19 local authorities published some or all of their drinking water quality data, just two — Mayo and Kerry County Councils — were found to be supplying adequate quality information to the public.

* www.epa.ie



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