Dáil debates

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla — Topical Issue Debate

Water Supply

9:30 am

Photo of Verona MurphyVerona Murphy (Wexford, Independent) | Oireachtas source

The health and well-being of the people of Wexford have been compromised by the actions and inability of the management of Wexford County Council. On 19 August, there was a breakdown at the Creagh water treatment plant in Gorey. People were drinking poisonous water in their homes from the Creagh treatment plant for a week without any boil water notice. Fifty-three people have been reported as affected. Some have been hospitalised while many more have become very seriously ill. It is commensurate with the first scene in the film "Erin Brockovich".

I attended a meeting of Wexford County Council on 13 September at which the director of services occupying the CEO's chair confirmed Wexford County Council first became aware of the contamination on 23 August but no boil water notice was issued. It is unclear what actions, if any, were taken. On South East Radio on Monday, the same director of services said that the first Wexford County Council knew about it was on 26 August. Those stories clearly do not match. The delineation between Wexford County Council and Irish Water is clear. Wexford County Council is responsible for the day-to-day risk management of the plant at Creagh and that risk management failed.

We in Wexford are left with a crisis of confidence in our drinking water. This has been described by the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, as an abject failure of management, oversight, operational control and responsiveness by Irish Water and local authorities. In all circumstances, the public must have confidence when they turn on their taps that they can drink the water from the public supply. We are not Spain during the reign of Franco. It is the most basic human right and one that has been compromised by the mismanagement of senior officials at Wexford County Council. Will the Minister of State appoint an independent forensic investigator with proper terms of reference, to include the allocation of engineering resources within Wexford County Council, and of sufficient standing to instil public support and bring back confidence in the water supply?


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