Irish Water’s managing director Niall Gleeson has defended the company’s record on water quality saying the greater frequency of boil notices is because of more scrutiny.
“There’s more scrutiny. We’re testing more rigorously and picking up problems...It’s not that water quality is deteriorating,” he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.
Mr Gleeson also apologised for the “massive impact” and “huge inconvenience” the boil water notice is having on 600,000 people in parts of Dublin, Kildare and Meath.
The boil water notice is in place due to problems at the Irish Water Leixlip treatment plant, which supplies a fifth of the daily water demand for the greater Dublin area.
The utility cannot guarantee the quality of the water coming from the plant.
The boil water notice was put in place due to high levels of suspended particles in the water causing it to appear cloudy, following heavy rainfall last weekend.
An audit of the ‘old’ Leixlip plant will be carried out by the EPA on Friday, the second within two weeks.
Mr Gleeson said that a lot of data on water quality has been taken this week which the EPA will be examining. A number of measures were put in place to take pressure off the ‘old’ Leixlip plant which provides water for more than 20% of Dublin.
The plant cannot be shut down and conservation measures “will not fix the problem” he added, but pressure has been taken off the plant by utilising services in Ballymore Eustace and Vartry.
The managing director also admitted that there is the possibility of further boil notices this winter. “We are doing everything we can to increase confidence in the plant,” he said.
He further acknowledged that it was a failing on the part of Irish Water not to move more quickly to install an automatic shut down system in the ‘old’ Leixlip plant. A similar system had been introduced in the new plant last March following a recommendation by the EPA.
A purchase order was issued for the ‘old’ plant, but because of the age of the plant, the plan was more complex. The failure to respond to an alarm at the plant is being investigated by Fingal County Council, he said.