For Written Answer on : 18/01/2023
Question Number(s): 564 Question Reference(s): 1759/23
Department: Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage further to the Topical Issue debate of 15 December 2022, the actions, if any, that he has taken on the proposals made by this Deputy during the debate; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
As outlined in the Topical Issue debate of 15 December 2022 the operation of the Whitegate Public Water Supply is a matter for Uisce Éireann, who has statutory responsibility for all aspects of water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local level. The scope, prioritisation and progression of individual projects is a matter for Uisce Éireann and is approved through its own internal governance structures.
I understand that interim upgrade works to the existing Whitegate systems have been completed and that Uisce Éireann is continuing to work closely with the EPA and HSE on resolving the issue.
In relation to communications on this issue my Department understands that Uisce Éireann is carrying out extensive communications to ensure all of its customers and stakeholders impacted by local Boil Water Notice (BWN) are updated in a consistent and transparent manner. This includes updated press releases issued weekly / fortnightly to print, broadcast, and online media outlets and to news desks in Cork to update the Whitegate community.
Each press release is also sent to elected representatives in the area. A targeted, social media campaign was also undertaken in 2022, with posts targeting Whitegate and surrounding areas published on Facebook. Their most recent press release was issued on 6 January 2023 and reminded the community of the need to continue boiling their drinking water before use, and gave an update on the current status of the new treatment plant.
Regarding Uisce Éireann meeting with the local municipal district, I understand that Uisce Éireann held an in-person briefing with invited Councillors in Middleton and TDs in East Cork in June 2022 at which the current issues with the plant were discussed (a BWN was in place at this time also) and laid out the future plans to upgrade Whitegate Water Treatment Plant. Uisce Éireann plans to reach out directly to all elected representatives including all members of the municipal district again in the short term when an update on the current planning process becomes available. The planning and delivery of a capital project of this scale takes time and as soon as Uisce Éireann has new information it will communicate that to all elected representatives. They also facilitate regular Councillor Clinics for Cork County.
Elected representatives are invited in advance and have the opportunity to meet with Uisce Éireann staff and can submit any questions on behalf of themselves or on behalf of their constituents.
In addition, Uisce Éireann has established a dedicated team to deal with representations and queries from public representatives. The team can be contacted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on a dedicated number, 1890 578 578.