26 Jan 2022

Irish Water urged to accelerate Longford treatment plant upgrade in wake of boil water notice lifting

Irish Water urged to accelerate Longford treatment plant upgrade in wake of boil water notice lifting

Irish Water urged to accelerate Longford treatment plant upgrade in wake of boil water notice lifting

Irish Water chiefs are facing fresh calls this week to fast track a multi million euro upgrade of a Longford water treatment plant which left almost half of the county without drinking water for the past four and a half weeks.


Approximately 17,500 people were placed under a boil water notice at the beginning of last month after a  cryptosporidium barrier at Irish Water's Lough Forbes treatment plant was compromised.

That sparked a deluge of criticism at local political level over how the notice was communicated to affected homeowners and businesses.

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An independent assessment conducted two weeks ago by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials found that while the plant was "producing safe water", tighter controls were needed surrounding its filtration system.

It's understood those concerns were settled following what  John Gavin, Asset Operations Lead with Irish Water described as  "extensive remedial works", coinciding in the relaxation of restrictions on Monday.

Despite the long awaited breakthrough, the State owned national water utility has been urged to ensure there is no repeat of the near five week interruption over the weeks and months ahead.

"It is good news, but it does point to issues that are there with the Lough Forbes plant," said Longford-Westmeath Fianna Fáil TD Joe Flaherty, who added he would be seeking fresh talks with senior officials in the coming days.

"We do need to see additional investment in the plant as it's quite clear that the investment in the plant has not kept pace with the level of demand."

Fine Gael Senator Micheal Carrigy said it was his understanding works to upgrade the plant were very much in train, preferring instead to stress how drinking water supplies were now at the required level for universal public consumption.

"There was a lot of misinformation put out there as to when it (notice) would be lifted and the only people that could make that decision were the HSE and EPA," he said.

"It was a huge inconvenience for people and understandably so but if the quality of water wasn't up to standard, it was correct that a boil water notice was in place."

Local businesses, meanwhile, breathed a collective sigh of relief at news of the lifting of restrictions on Monday.

"Like many other businesses in Longford, we welcome it," said Ruth McGarry Quinn, owner of Torc Café and Food Hall.

"Hopefully, we don't have interruptions again because it was challenging and there were additional costs involved like buying bottled water for prepping food."

They were relieving sentiments which were shared by David Dowd of Longford town restaurant Take Two.

David said while there was much contentment at the easing of restraints, questions still remained over how the plant's long standing filtration issues.

"Of course you would," he replied, when asked if he still harboured concerns over water quality levels.

"Your not going to fix something like that overnight unless you put something in the water to kill the bacteria and that's not good either."

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Over €2.5m in financial support has been allocated to eight Longford schools under the Summer Works Scheme, forming part of a near €6m investment in education, infrastructure and travel this week

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