Irish Water release full report into Louth water outage crisis
Irish Water have confirmed that work is underway to design and progress replacement of the high pressure asbestos water main following a burst that occurred on this critical pipe in late July causing prolonged water supply interruptions for households and businesses in the Drogheda, South Louth and East Meath for almost a week.
Additional funding has been committed to replace this pipe along with the €24m already prioritised for upgrades to the Staleen and Cavanhill Water Treatment Plants. Construction on these projects, which will safeguard supply and quality of drinking water for Drogheda, will begin in the coming months and will take approximately 2 years to complete, depending on progress of necessary planning consents.
A comprehensive review has also been undertaken by Irish Water to establish the facts relating to the burst and repair of this watermain to identify lessons learned and make recommendations to improve the capability of the utility to respond to an exceptional incident of this type and scale in future. Completion of this review will also allow Irish Water (IW) to consolidate and further enhance its overall incident management and specific incident preparedness and response for exceptional service disruptions.
Gerry Duane, Irish Water’s Head of Operations said, “Watermain bursts will continue to be a common occurrence for several years to come and we deal with close to 300 bursts across the country every month. In the vast majority of cases the repair is completed quickly without significant interruption to customers. In the case of the Staleen burst, the complexity of the repair and the number of people relying on this water supply made this incident very different and so a review of how we managed it was both essential and worthwhile.”
Key findings of this review recognise that this was a major incident for Irish Water which underlined the risks presented by the very poor condition of many critical water assets across the country. The report also identifies key priorities for action by Irish Water which will, over time, improve the preparedness for similar incidents in future. The completed review of the Staleen incident has been issued to the Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government, the CER, the EPA, the National Water Forum, Local Elected representatives and published on the Irish Water website.
Key recommendations outlined in the report are for Irish Water to undertake the following:
Identify the most critical water assets across the country and ensure, as far as possible that the spares and resources necessary to effect a repair in the event of failure are readily available.
Establish a central store, together with the transportation resources required, to facilitate the rapid deployment of equipment to support the provision of alternative water supplies in future incidents of this kind.
Develop and enhance on a prioritised basis, together with Local Authorities, existing contingency plans for providing alternative water supplies in the event of a major supply disruption.
Develop, in consultation with the Commission for Energy Regulation, an enhanced Vulnerable Customer register.
Gerry Duane added, “This burst in late July resulted in significant hardship for communities and businesses in the Drogheda area. Irish Water in co-ordinating a national response benefitted hugely from widespread support throughout the management of the incident from voluntary organisations, community groups, local elected representatives and the professionalism, technical ability and commitment of the staff of the Louth and Meath County Councils.”