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20th Sep 2021

Irish Water apologises after contaminated drinking water leads to hospitalisations

Dave Hanratty

Irish Water apology

“These incidents shouldn’t have happened.”

Irish Water has issued a formal apology to customers who became unwell after drinking contaminated water that had entered the general public drinking water supply in August.

The unsafe water was distributed in parts of Dublin and north Wexford, having gone undetected by Irish Water officials who have now vowed to take steps to ensure that similar incidents do not occur again in the future.

At least 52 people fell ill as a result of the breaches, with a number of hospitalisations subsequently reported. In response, all Irish Water treatment plants throughout the country are set to undergo an auditing process.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Monday (20 September), Irish Water Managing Director Niall Gleeson admitted that the incidents should not have happened, citing reporting failures at local level resulting in a delay in Irish Water being informed, with officials not notified until Thursday, 26 August.

Given that the untreated water was in the system by that point, Gleeson argued that putting out a boil water notice to the public would have had “no advantage”.

“We would like to apologise to all of our customers,” Gleeson said. “These incidents shouldn’t have happened.

“We should have communicated quicker and we should have dealt with the HSE and the EPA to agree necessary steps when untreated water went into the system. There was a failure there and we are taking steps to ensure that these failures don’t happen again,” he added.

Gleeson placed some degree of blame directly on Wexford County Council, citing a breakdown in communication.

“We should have been informed by Wexford County Council as soon as the incident happened,” he said.

“I know they had some communication issues with their operational staff and we are trying to understand why there was a failure in communication.”

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