News

Offaly water is "perfectly safe, perfectly sound"

Thursday, 20 July 2017

A COUNCIL official told the councillors during Monday afternoon's County Council meeting that the quality of water in Offaly is "perfectly safe, perfectly sound." He said the boil water notice period last week was a bizarre one-off event which is highly unlikely to ever be repeated.

 The councillors said that more information needs to be forthcoming as to what exactly happened. Cllr John Carroll pointed out that the lifting of the boil water notice was very welcome. "However," he added, "serious questions need to be asked as to why second samples were not taken before the boil water notice was issued. Because second samples weren't taken we had the bizarre situation of three allegedly contaminated samples taken on the same day at three different supply sources in South Offaly, when not one contaminated sample has been discovered in a number of years. I have already put this question to Irish Water. This experience has not only been stressful for many but also expensive for families, businesses and the food industry."

Cllr Carroll said it was very unlikely that three separate water sources, in Birr, Banagher and Dunkerrin, were all contaminated on the same day.

Cllr John Clendennen complimented the council staff for a speedy resolution to the situation. "However it does raise questions regarding the testing process. Fingers were being pointed at various possibilities for the cause of the pollution but it's only speculation at the moment. We don't know exactly what caused it. It caused a major inconvenience for 10,000 people and the sale of bottled water went through the roof."

He said the samples were sent to the HSE laboratories in Clonmel and were tested positive there. He asked for a full report from the HSE. The councillor added that the county has a reputation for excellent water quality and this episode hadn't changed that.

Cllr Peter Ormond also complimented the Council staff for the way they tackled the problem. He said it was an unfortunate bit of negative, nationwide exposure for the county. "There are lots of rumours out there as to what happened," he remarked. "It is important that we eventually receive a detailed HSE report outlining exactly what happened. It is unheard of that three different water sources would test negative on the same day." He asked that the Council be given a full report during the September monthly meeting.

Cllr Eddie Fitzpatrick said he believes that this was a one off event. He said the quality of the water in the county is of a very high standard.

A member of the council executive told the councillors that 3,000 water tests are carried out in Offaly per annum. "In this instance when E.coli and total coliforms were discovered during routine testing on the three water supplies we had no choice but to act." He said it was simply a coincidence that all three supplies tested negative on the same day. It was bizarre but it was just a coincidence. He said he didn't expect any further conclusion from the HSE than that.

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