Irish Water has acknowledged it should have acted sooner in its response to the Drogheda water crisis, which left more than 80,000 homes and businesses without water for almost a week in July. 

In a review published tonight, it also said the incident highlighted the poor condition of Ireland's water infrastructure and the need to ensure that repair supplies are readily available.

The company confirmed that work is under way to design and put in place new water pipes to replace the high pressure asbestos water main that burst and caused July's crisis, which resulted in prolonged water supply interruptions for households and businesses in the Drogheda, south Louth and east Meath for almost a week.  
It said €24m has already been allocated for upgrades to the Staleen and Cavanhill Water Treatment Plants in the area, aimed at safeguarding supply and quality of drinking water for Drogheda.

The works are expected to take two years to complete.


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The detailed report says that burst mains pipes are a very common feature with Irish Water having already dealt with 2,050 burst pipes so far this year.

Gerry Duane, Irish Water's Head of Operations, said: "In the vast majority of cases the repair is completed quickly without significant interruption to customers.

"In the case of the Staleen burst, the complexity of the repair and the number of people relying on this water supply made this incident very different and so a review of how we managed it was both essential and worthwhile." 

The report says that Irish Water needs to identify the most critical water assets across the country and ensure, as far as possible, that the spares and resources needed for repairs are readily available.

It also calls for the establishment of a central store, together with the transportation resources required, to facilitate the rapid deployment of equipment to support the provision of alternative water supplies in future incidents of this kind.

It also says that existing contingency plans for providing alternative water supplies in the case of disruption need to be develop and enhanced in conjunction with the local authorities.

In addition, it recommends that Irish Water work with the Health Service Executive, the Commission for Energy Regulation and with other relevant agencies to establish a Vulnerable Customer Register that can inform priorities in cases of future disruption to water supplies.