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24 Sept 2022

Irish Water update on brown water complaints in Dundalk and surrounding areas

Dislodged sediment in old cast iron mains causing temporary discolouration of the water

Irish Water update on brown water complaints in Dundalk and surrounding areas

Irish Water update on brown water complaints in Dundalk and surrounding areas

Irish Water say that sediment in old cast iron mains pipes, which has been dislodged during repair or maintenance works, is the reason for "temporary discolouration of the water / the water to appear brown before it reaches customers' taps", in homes in Dundalk and surrounding areas.

The Dundalk Democrat contacted Irish Water after it was revealed that significant water discolouration has occurred in the water supply in Dundalk, as well in areas including Blackrock and Dromiskin over the weekend. Mid Louth councillor, John Sheridan, told the Democrat that he had been contacted by people with concerns on the issue, "particularly those caring for people who are sick and those with young children and babies".

The full response from Irish Water to the Dundalk Democrat is as follows:

"In Ireland, drinking water can pass through several kilometres of pipework before it reaches homes and businesses. Some of this pipework is constructed from cast iron and, depending on the area, can be up to 100 years old. Old cast iron mains typically suffer from corrosion and as a result, sediment from these pipes can be dislodged during repair or maintenance works, causing temporary discolouration of the water / the water to appear brown before it reaches customers' taps. This is not harmful to health and usually running the tap for a number of minutes will restore the clear colour. More information can be found at https://www.water.ie/water-supply/supply-issues/discoloured-water/.

"Most of the time, the drinking water passes over this sediment unchanged. However changes in flow, pressure or direction can dislodge this sediment and carry it through to your tap. This can cause your water to appear as brown or orange in colour and is more likely to occur when repair or maintenance works are being carried out on the public water supply pipes. In order to prevent sediment build-up, Irish Water and our Local Authority partners regularly flush our water mains especially in old areas of the network such as Dundalk. 

"Irish Water, working in partnership with Louth County Council, continue to progress a programme of watermains flushing to safeguard the water supply for customers in Dundalk and its environs. These essential flushing works are required to clear manganese sediment from the distribution network and reduce the likelihood of future discolouration issues at the customer tap.

"These flushing activities are part of an overall action plan to address discolouration issues associated with high manganese levels found in the source water that feeds into Cavanhill water treatment plant. A programme of works at the Cavanhill water treatment plant has already been carried out including the installation of an interim Manganese treatment system to reduce manganese levels in the final treated water.

"In relation to the Blackrock area, essential hydrant repair works are currently underway and are scheduled to take place until 6pm this evening which again may result in discolouration of customers’ water supply. It may take 2-3 hours for normal water supply to return to all customers when works are complete but it is important to continue to follow the HSE guidance on hand-washing.

"Following the works, customers seeing discoloured water coming from their cold kitchen tap are advised to run the tap for a few minutes to restore the clear colour. If the colour does not restore to clear, customers are advised not the drink the water as a precaution, and should contact the Irish Water customer care helpline, open 24/7 on 1800 278 278 or via Twitter @IWCare. The latest updates on these works will be available on the Supply and Service Updates section of the Irish Water website.

"We would like thank the local community in Dundalk in advance for their patience and cooperation while we continue to upgrade the water supply in Dundalk. Irish Water working in partnership with Louth County Council regret any inconvenience caused during these essential works."

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