Ballymahon, Gowna, Granard and Longford Central Water Supply Schemes affected by elevated levels of THMs (trihalomethanes)
Almost 75% of county Longford's total population, or approximately 29,400 people, are being served by an 'at risk' water supply.
Irish Water says it is taking measures to mitigate the risk, stressing that the water is still safe to drink on the four affected schemes.
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Ballymahon, Gowna, Granard and Longford Central Water Supply Schemes are affected by elevated levels of THMs (trihalomethanes) and these supplies are on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Remedial Action List (RAL).
The first improvement works are expected to be complete on the Ballymahon scheme by early 2019, with work on the Gowna, Granard and Longford Central supplies not expected to be completed until 2020.
The RAL is the list of ‘at risk’ water supplies, and Irish Water is writing to homes and businesses in Co Longford to outline why the supply in question is at risk and what it is doing to mitigate the risk.
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In the past, Irish Water only contacted homes and businesses if there was a problem with their drinking water supply that was likely to cause an immediate risk to health. Irish Water will continue to do that. However, the recent Water Services Policy Statement 2018 -2025, called for better engagement with, and greater transparency for people using public water supplies.
Irish Water says that this direct communication with their 29,400 'at risk' customers in Longford is an important part of helping the public to understand what they do.
Irish Water outlined the work it is undertaking to improve the four drinking water supplies in County Longford on the EPA’s Remedial Action List;
* The Ballymahon Water Supply Scheme is affected by elevated levels of THMs (trihalomethanes). THMs are chemical compounds which can form over time when natural organic matter such as the tiny remaining particles of twigs and leaves, react with chlorine. The addition of chlorine to the treated water is an essential part of the treatment process and is necessary to kill harmful bacteria and make the water safe to drink. Irish Water is making operational improvements to the Abbeyshrule water treatment plant which will mitigate this risk, and these improvements are expected to be complete by early 2019.
* The Gowna Water Supply Scheme is affected by elevated levels of THMs. Irish Water is making operational improvements to the Smear water treatment plant which will mitigate this risk, and these improvements are expected to be complete by early 2020.
* The Granard Water Supply Scheme is affected by elevated levels of THMs. Irish Water is making operational improvements to the Lough Kinale water treatment plant which will mitigate this risk, and these improvements are expected to be complete by early 2020.
* The Longford Central Water Supply Scheme is affected by elevated levels of THMs and pesticides. Irish Water plans to carry out upgrade works at the Lough Forbes Water Treatment Plant to mitigate the risk of THMs. These works are due for completion by early 2020. Irish Water is also actively engaging with the relevant stakeholders to help prevent pesticides from entering the source waters for our supplies.
Irish Water correspondence to customers
Homes and businesses in 16 counties across the country on 55 different water supply schemes will receive a detailed booklet outlining the issues with their water supply which might vary from elevated THMs; inadequate barriers for cryptosporidium; poor turbidity removal; presence of low levels of pesticides; or details of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) audit of a plant.
The individual booklet will explain in detail to householders where their drinking water comes from; why Irish Water is writing to them; how Irish Water knows that their water is safe to drink; information about regulation and testing; what Irish Water is doing to fix their specific water supply; and where they can get more information.
Any drinking water sample showing a result above a specified water quality standard is notified immediately to our environmental regulator, the EPA, in line with statutory requirements. The EPA is the supervisory authority for public supplies and regulates Irish Water in terms of our ability to produce and supply compliant water to our customers. If there is any concern about a possible health risk from the drinking water we produce, the HSE is also consulted.
Longford drinking water is safe
Speaking about the public information campaign, Mark Macaulay, Asset Planning Manager at Irish Water said, “Irish Water has worked closely with the EPA to identify the public water schemes that need a plan or action to improve their water treatment. We are prioritising our investment in these treatment plants. Providing safe, clean drinking water for all in Co Longford is our first goal."
Mr Macaulay added, “We wish to assure everyone we are writing to in Longford that their drinking water is safe to drink. We monitor and test our supplies on a continuous basis and if this monitoring indicates a potential water quality issue we consult with the HSE. If the results from our monitoring programmes indicate any potential risk to public health from the drinking water supply we inform the public immediately. If anyone has any questions or concerns they should contact Irish Water.”
If members of the public have any questions that are not covered in the Irish Water booklet, they can phone Irish Water on Callsave 1850 278 278 or +353 1 707 2828 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).