Some residents in Strabane have been getting an 'eye watering' smell of chlorine from their drinking water for a matter of weeks as a local MLA called on NI Water to do more to address the issue.
A significant number of local residents in the Co Tyrone town and the surrounding areas have reported the issue in recent days, with some experiencing the problem for a number of weeks.
Sinn Féin MLA for West Tyrone, Maolíosa McHugh, said the issue has been widespread in the area despite residents being told by NI Water that it would be resolved in 24 hours.
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“Initially I had made representations to NI Water on behalf of a small number of residents who had contacted me about the problem of what they described as the ‘eye watering’ smell of chlorine coming from their drinking water," McHugh said.
“The first response from NI Water was that it had received no other complaints from the Strabane area about any such problems but that if it persists beyond a further 24 hours to get in touch again.
“However, upon highlighting the issue on social media, I received a large number of messages from residents in different parts of Strabane town, Sion Mills and the rural hinterland all confirming that they have been experiencing the exact same problem over the last number of weeks.
“I began communicating the addresses and post codes of residents affected to NI Water who then confirmed that technicians would be tasked to flush the mains to rectify the problems in these areas.
“However, given the wide geographical spread of residents reporting the same problem it is clear that these are not isolated incidents but a wider issue."
Some of those affected believe there may be a link between the drinking water and illnesses in their household during the holiday period.
In a statement, NI Water said it was necessary to add chlorine to all drinking water, and while chlorine levels were higher due to recent temperature changes, they remained within permitted limits.
“Some people are more sensitive than others to the smell or taste of chlorine and may become aware of occasional changes in chlorine levels in their tap water," a spokesperson for the body said.
“NI Water is aware that during the pre-Christmas thaw some customers in the Strabane, Ballymagorry and Artigarvin areas experienced higher than normal taste and smell of chlorine in their water supply.
"The water for this area is supplied from Derg Water Treatment works and due to the cold weather conditions as well as a greater volume of water there were higher levels of chlorine in the distribution system. However, at all times the chlorine levels measured in the distribution system remained within permitted limits.
“NI Water have a robust testing and sampling system which sees over 120,000 samples lifted and analysed each year as required by the Drinking Water Regulations. Samples are taken from customer homes, from drinking water reservoirs and from treatment plants with sampling and analysis carried out 365 days per year; this testing includes measuring and monitoring the level of chlorine in the drinking water supply.
“Any customers with concerns should contact Waterline on 0345 744 0088.”
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