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'Do not drink or wash' water warning for Meath lifted

The warning was issued yesterday afternoon.

Image: Shutterstock/nikkytok

A “DO NOT drink, do not wash” water supply notice that was issued to parts of Meath yesterday has been lifted this evening.

Irish Water warned people to refrain from using their water due to elevated levels of chlorine in the water, which reportedly have caused rashes and illnesses in children.

Responding to questions from local TD Thomas Byrne about why Irish Water waited until Wednesday to act, when they were first notified of a problem on Monday, the utility company said:

“Irish Water was notified late on Monday night via email that customers were experiencing water quality issues.

“Irish Water then telephoned those customers on Tuesday and they reported a smell of chlorine from their water but they did not point to any other ill effects.

“Irish Water then started a process to get the water in the affected areas sampled.

By the time we had the results of the sampling on Wednesday morning, which showed unacceptably elevated chlorine levels, Irish Water had received calls from a small number of customers who said they were feeling unwell.

It said that it then contacted the HSE and By this point Irish Water had consulted with the HSE and on their advice we put a notice on advising customers not to use the water for drinking, food preparation or washing. By 2pm on Wednesday Irish Water had bottled water on site at Kilcloon School and Church for public distribution and this location was replenished and supplemented by bulk water containers.

Irish Water then worked with Meath County Council to carry out a programme of flushing on the network to return the chlorine levels to the correct drinking water standards. We liaised continually with the HSE to keep them informed of our on-going sampling results.

It was only when the HSE was fully confident that the water was once again safe to use that they advised us to lift the notice.

The company also explained what caused the problem:

Our investigations have indicated that an operational failure on a chlorine booster caused a very gradual over-chlorination of the water. This over-chlorination built gradually to the point where customers could smell the excess and told us that they were feeling unwell.

The company apologised to customers and said that anyone with health concerns should contact their GP.

Irish Water added that chlorine was an ”essential disinfectant used around the world”, which ensures that water is safe to drink.

“The levels of chlorine in the water may vary depending on the level of disinfection required. This can lead to odour issues on water that is safe to drink,” it said.

The warning was issued for areas in Kilcloon, Moygaddy, Killeany, Kilgraigue, Harristown, Brownstown, Ballynare, Butlerstown, Staffordstown, Brownrath, Blackhall Little, Waynestown, Harlockstown, Ballymacoll.

Read: ‘Do not drink or wash’ water warning for parts of Meath following reports of rashes

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