Sampling & Scouring programme on Lough Talt

Water sampling and scouring programme to begin on Lough Talt water supply following announcement of Boil Water Notice

Water sampling and scouring programme to begin on Lough Talt water supply following announcement of Boil Water Notice

Irish Water, working in partnership with Sligo County Council, would like to remind customers supplied by the Lough Talt Public Water Supply that the Boil Water Notice that was issued on the supply on Monday remains in place until further notice.

The Boil Water Notice was issued on the advice of the Health Service Executive following the detection of cryptosporidium in the treated water coming from the plant after a routine test.

Areas affected include the towns of Tubbercurry and Ballymote and a large rural hinterland including the villages of Annagh, Aclare, Bellaghy, Bunnanaddan, Curry, Lavagh, Ballanacarrow, Carroweden, Kilmacteige, Quarryfield and Coolaney.

This boil notice also includes customers supplied by the Ogham Group Water Scheme (GWS) in Co Sligo.

The following areas in Co Mayo are also affected: Cloontia, Doocastle, and the Moylough GWS.

An action plan has been implemented by the Incident Management Team which includes a two-week testing and sampling programme in several areas throughout the scheme which has been agreed with the HSE. This sampling plan will commence today (Wednesday). Following this the results of the suite of tests carried out over the two-week period will be reviewed collectively by all stakeholders involved before further action is advised by the HSE. 

In addition to this we will be increasing our routine scouring programme over the next few days throughout the network which may cause some discolouration to water. Customers who experience discolouration should run their tap until the water runs clear.

Customers are reminded to continue to boil water before consumption.

Commenting Seamus Granahan, Regional Asset Operations Manager said:

“If further positive results for cryptosporidium are confirmed it is likely that the Boil Water Notice will be extended until additional treatment process barriers are put in place. This will involve the construction of a new water treatment plant for which planning permission will be required.  The incident management team will continue to liaise with the HSE and give this incident its full attention.”

Irish Water recognised in 2014 that the Lough Talt supply needed more advanced treatment to meet both risk of Cryptosporidium contamination and compliance with the specified limits for Trihalomethanes (THMs).

In July 2015 Irish Water lodged a planning application with Sligo County Council which was refused on the basis of the conservation of Lough Talt for reasons of protected habitat. Irish Water subsequently appealed that decision to An Bord Pleanála who also refused the application in April 2017.  Having consulted with the planning authorities and the EU Commission in relation to the Habitats Directive, Irish Water is working with key stakeholders including the National Parks and Wildlife Service to progress a planning application under the ‘Imperative Reasons for Over-riding Public Interest (IROPI)’ mechanism. Irish Water hopes to be able to resubmit the revised planning application supported by the IROPI documentation in the next two months.

In the event that planning permission is successful Irish Water would expect to begin construction on a site by early 2019 and have a fully functioning plant by early to mid-2020. In view of this timetable Irish Water is looking at what further measures it might be able to take in the interim that might be able to address the cryptosporidium risk in consultation with the HSE and the EPA.

In the meantime customers are advised that all water for human consumption including the washing of teeth, making of ice and in the preparation of food that is not cooked must be boiled before use and it is imperative that people adhere to the boil water notice.

A map of the scheme is available on the Irish Water and below.

Map of the Lough Talt and Ogham schemes (PDF) - 5,531 kbs  PDF

Irish Water and Sligo County Council sincerely apologise to all customers for any inconvenience caused by this Boil Water Notice.

Water must be boiled for:

  • Drinking
  • Drinks made with water
  • Preparation of salads and similar foods, which are not cooked prior to eating
  • Brushing of teeth
  • Making of ice
  • Discard ice cubes in fridges and freezers and filtered water in fridges. Make ice from cooled boiled water.

What actions should be taken:

  • Use water prepared for drinking when preparing foods that will not be cooked (e.g. washing salads).
  • Water can be used for personal hygiene, bathing and flushing of toilets but not for brushing teeth or gargling.
  • Boil water by bringing to a vigorous, rolling boil (e.g. with an automatic kettle) and allow to cool. Cover and store in a refrigerator or cold place. Water from the hot tap is not safe to drink. Domestic water filters will not render water safe to drink.
  • Caution should be taken when bathing children to ensure that they do not swallow the bathing water.
  • Prepare infant feeds with water that has been brought to the boil once and cooled. Do not use water that has been re-boiled several times. Bottled water can be used to make up infant formula. All bottled water, with the exception of natural mineral water, is regulated to the same standard as drinking water. It is best not to use bottled water labelled as ‘Natural Mineral Water’ as it can have high levels of sodium (salt) and other minerals, although it rarely does. ‘Natural Mineral Water’ can be used if no other water is available, for as short a time as possible, as it is important to keep babies hydrated. If bottled water is used to make up infant formula it should be boiled once (rolling boil for 1 minute), and cooled in the normal way.

Anyone suffering from diarrhoea for more than two days should contact their general practitioner and provide a stool sample for testing. They should continue to drink plenty of boiled or bottled water.

Great care should be taken with boiled water to avoid burns and scalds as accidents can easily happen, especially with children.

Further information and additional advice for customers is available on or by calling 1850 278 278.