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Saturday 30 September 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland
# Kettles to boyle
Some Irish areas have been on boiled water notice for over six years
The EPA thinks Irish Water should act more quickly.

WATER IS VERY much on the agenda for Irish people this week, not least because Irish Water have published their 25-year plan for the future of the clear (normally) stuff.

A standout figure in the utility’s 116-page report is the 23,055 people nationwide currently on boiled water notice. has seen details of the 18 notices served around the country (courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]) at present and they don’t make pretty reading for residents of Roscommon.

lifford water

Of the seven counties with live notices, Roscommon is easily the worst affected, with 92% of the affected population living there.

The townland of Killeglan in the south of the county is the most populous area listed with some 6,000 people affected.

In fact the top six places on the list are all Rossie-related – Boyle, Castlerea (urban and regional), Strokestown and Ardcarne being the other offenders.

boiled water

Parts of Galway (the problems at Williamstown as detailed here), Longford, Tipperary and Sligo make up the majority of the remainder, with very small pockets in Waterford and Limerick rounding out the numbers.

More bizarrely many of the notices are far from recent – and in two cases they’ve been in place since 2008 (Cloran and Gortnapisha in Tipperary – worryingly, the reason for the notice is presence of E. coli).

killeglan Killeglan, Co. Roscommon - the most boiled-watery place in Ireland

Boiled water notices mean that water is unsafe to drink, and even brushing your teeth is a risk. Boiling water is one solution although many householders simply opt to purchase bottled water which is obviously far more expensive.

Even dishwashers are not immune from the problem – most such devices don’t reach sufficient temperatures to kill the troublesome parasites in the water.

The presence of cryptosporidium in the water is the dominant factor in the outstanding Irish cases  - 80% of cases around Ireland are attributable to the the tiny organism which famously caused havoc with water supplies in County Galway in the late 2000′s.

E. coli, connection to a raw water supply, and low chlorine are among the other reasons for the notices.

Speaking to Darragh Page of the EPA reiterated that the biggest problem in the country remains cryptosporidium.

“Well that tends to be a problem with water treatments plants that are no longer fit for purpose,” he said.

With the problems around 2007 in Galway city, you had two treatment plants, one of which was over 50 years old and wasn’t treating the water to anything like an adequate level.
The only way to deal with it is to enhance the water treatment in an area.
But with a lot of the very small areas on notice the issue is that houses are simply built too close to a treatment plant for the chlorination process to take effect.
Some sort of storage tank is the only solution in such cases.

The EPA recently published a drinking water remedial list for 2014 with some 120 instances documented of issues across the country.

Page explains that many of the current boiled water notices would have been on previous remedial lists, while notices of the future will almost certainly come from the current list.

clean water

He doesn’t agree with Irish Water, however, and their estimate of an end to boiled water notices by 2021.

2021 is not the date given to the EPA by Irish Water – really these notices shouldn’t be extending beyond 2016.
We’re expecting ten of the notices to disappear this year, and seven the next.
If there’s no proper investment then more sites may surface yes, but once cryptosporidium sites are fixed they should be fixed and that’s that.
All public water supplies require treatment.  If the treatment is adequate, there should be no need for boiled water notices in future.

Read: Irish Water plans to reduce leaks to 20 per cent … by the year 2040

Read: ‘Heads need to be knocked together’ to lift two year boil water notice in Galway

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