For Written Answer on : 07/11/2023
Question Number(s): 630 Question Reference(s): 47692/23
Department: Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage further to Parliamentary Question No. 564 of 18 January 2023, and given the reissuing of the boil water notice for the Whitegate public water supply on 18 October 2023, if he would consider compensation for the costs associated with the purchasing and boiling of water by affected households; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
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.
I have been informed that Uisce Éireann in partnership with Cork County Council has issued a Boil Water Notice for customers supplied by Whitegate Public Water Supply, following consultation with the HSE. This notice is being issued as a precautionary measure to protect the health of approximately 9,000 customers due to increased turbidity in the raw water source as a result of recent heavy rainfall. This may have compromised the disinfection process at the water treatment plant which makes the water safe to drink.
Drinking water process specialists from Uisce Éireann are working to address the turbidity issues at the treatment plant and to lift the notice as quickly and as safely as possible, in consultation with the HSE. However, given the limitations of the existing water treatment plant infrastructure, it could prove extremely difficult to lift the boil water notice during the winter months when raw water turbidity levels tend to spike.
The Uisce Éireann Water Charges Plan and Customer Charter sets out a compensation mechanism when water quality is compromised and unfit for human consumption such as when Boil Water and Drinking Water Restriction Notices apply.
I do not have a role in the development and implementation of the Water Charges plan. These are matters for Uisce Éireann and are approved by the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) following a public consultation process. Any issues, which cannot be resolved by Uisce Éireann to the satisfaction of the customer can be referred under the formal complaints process to CRU.
Business customers who pay charges are entitled to a rebate under the Customer Handbook as agreed with the Commission for Regulation of Utilities. Adjustments are made via the customers’ bills. This only applies to water used for drinking.