Irish Water has said it could be 2024 before a new treatment plant will be in place for over 9,500 customers in the Whitegate area of east Cork.

Residents and businesses on the Whitegate Regional Public Water System have been operating under a boil water notice since 29 October last.

Over the past seven years frequent boil water notices have been issued due to problems with turbidity in the raw water source - much to the frustration of locals.

Areas affected include Aghada, Churchtown, Ballycotton, Saleen, Shanagarry, Ballinacurra and Cloyne.

In a statement issued this week, the utility company said it had hoped that a major upgrade of the water treatment plant - including a new coagulation, flocculation and a clarification system, as well as new filtration and disinfection systems - would be exempt from planning as emergency works.

However, Cork County Council has said a full planning application has to be made, which Irish Water hopes to submit in early 2023, with construction commencing on site in 2024.

"However, as with all projects where planning is required, timelines can be difficult to predict. Further updates will be made available as the project progresses."

Irish Water acknowledged the "inconvenience" the boil water notices are having on the local community and said it is working to resolve the issue and lift the notice as soon as possible.

But Pat Britton, Water Operations Lead for Irish Water, warned they might have to reissue it again if the raw water quality deteriorates, "or we get a bad spell of adverse weather".