Shambolic response to Staleen repair left 60,000 without water for days

29 September 2017

Documents released under Freedom of Information show no contact in 2017 between Irish Water and Department of Housing on €24 million Staleen investment

Drogheda-based Labour Senator Ged Nash has said delays and confusion in Irish Water’s response to the major pipe burst at Staleen near Drogheda in late July contributed to the company’s “shambolic” handling of a crisis whihc left 60,000 people without water for days on end.

Senator Nash explained:

“Bizarrely, it took Irish Water four days to set up a Crisis Management Team to respond to a widespread crisis that should have been anticipated and for which the company should have been prepared.

“Delays in accessing the site due to an issue which the company acknowledges they failed to ‘close out’ with the landowner and which arose from their handling of a major leak as recently as June 2016 conspired to set the repair and emergency planning back considerably.

“Irish Water belatedly acknowledges that it took them too long to establish the severity of the incident and to escalate to a full scale crisis, when at that point in time 60,000 people were already without a mains water supply.

“Given the history of issues at Staleen and the creaking nature of the infrastructure, it is extremely troubling that Irish Water did not have the necessary tools, equipment and materials close at hand to perform the fix that was required.

“It is troubling that no contact appears to have occurred between Irish Water and the Department of Housing for the entirety of 2017 around the case to replace the Staleen infrastructure which has had a history of outages.

“It is a cause of great concern that the delays in bringing tankers and other alternative supplies to Drogheda, East Meath and South Louth were caused because those who were in charge of the contingency plans could not manage to make contact with other services and tanker suppliers outside of the area because the events occurred over a weekend.

“It is not good enough that it took their crisis management team five days to collectively brief local Oireachtas and Council members.

“Irish Water was totally unprepared for a crisis of this scale. Serious lessons need to be learned by the Irish Water senior management team and with a government made crisis in funding for our water services I fear that another Drogheda type incident is almost inevitable.”

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