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Irish Water ‘misleading’ Achill public

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UPGRADE CALL Corrymore Water Treatment Facility on Achill Island, Pic Conor McKeown

Councillor claims Irish Water talking ‘nonsense’ following further island outages

Anton McNulty

Irish Water has been accused of misleading the Achill public over the cause of water outages on the island since the ‘do not consume’ notice was lifted for the parish on Friday.
The ‘do not consume’ water notice which had been in place on the Achill Public Water Supply since August 7 was lifted by Irish Water on Friday, September 4, after water-quality sampling confirmed the water was safe to drink.
However, households in a number of villages across the island woke up on Monday morning to find a trickle of water coming from their taps, with many left without any water at all.
In a statement on Friday, Irish Water said that customers ‘may experience some intermittent outages this evening and over the weekend as full supply returns to the network following the reservoir cleaning’.
However, Achill councillor Paul McNamara told The Mayo News that this is ‘pure nonsense’ and the water authority were making excuses as the treatment plant at Corrymore is not fit to cater for the normal demand for the parish.
“The water crisis on Achill has gone from bad to worse. The plant in Corrymore has undergone remedial work to bring it back to operational level but shut down yesterday [Sunday] and there was no output from it. Every time it goes above the capacity it is shutting down. It is not fit for the normal demand for water, and as a result we have three or four reservoirs gone dry and a number of areas without water,” he said.

Questions to answer
Cllr McNamara claimed that Irish Water should not have lifted the ‘do not consume’ notice and accused them of not being honest with their customers.
“Irish Water have a lot of questions to answer. They should never have lifted the notice until they were 100 percent sure that plant was fully operational. The reason they lifted the notice is because it was one of the longest periods of time that a ‘do not consume’ notice has been in place and they did not want it going over the month.
“They should have left us on it until they were 100 percent sure everyone would receive proper water. Now we have a situation where half the parish is without water and will be for three to four days,” he said.
The ‘do not consume’ notice was issued on August 7 after exceedances of aluminium levels were found in the treated water. The influx of summer visitors to the island and the higher water temperatures were blamed for the plant failure and alternative water supplies were supplied to the general population.
Water tankers were also used to refill the reservoirs around the island, and Cllr McNamara said that he has been informed that tankers are now returning to Achill to fill up some of the reservoirs.
Upgrade demanded
Irish Water thanked the customers for their patience while all of the reservoirs refill and the supply returns to normal and asked them to continue conserving water during this time.
In response, Cllr McNamara said that while the businesses and people of Achill had been very patient with Irish Water over the last month but they would not tolerate further water shortages. He said that the demand for water seen in August is no longer an issue and that the only solution to the current water problem is a total upgrade of the Corrymore treatment plant.
“There is no shortage of water in our source, the problem is the infrastructure which delivers it. Irish Water are covering this up. They are misleading the people and not being honest and I am not standing over that.
“The people of the parish will be faced with recurring water outages over the coming months if immediate upgrade work does not place to deal with the capacity for the demand. The plant is designed for 90 cubic metres per hour but at the moment the demand is 120 cubic metres. The reservoirs cannot fill because the plant cannot produce enough water even when the tourists are gone.
“I am calling for total upgrade of the plant, the people of Achill deserve water. I have had B&Bs and businesses onto me saying they had to cancel their reservations, as they have no water. They have been patient up until now but this cannot be allowed to continue. No senior person from Irish Water has travelled to Achill to view the situation, which shows how much they care about the problem.”

New equipment
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carried out an audit of the Achill plant on Thursday before the ‘do not consume’ notice was lifted. The audit found that Irish Water has installed additional monitoring equipment at the plant, which provides ‘greater operational control of the treatment processes’.
The EPA added that Irish Water has also installed a new plant shutdown facility which will prevent inadequately treated water being supplied to consumers.  
“The EPA is satisfied that these measures will prevent a reoccurrence of the technical issues which led to aluminium exceedances in the final treated water and the imposition of the ‘do not consume’ notice on the water supply,” the agency told The Mayo News.