A FIANNA Fáil councillor has said there would be ‘a national outcry’ if people knew that sewage was leaking into a drinking water supply near Clonakilty.
Although the issue has been raised at countless meetings of the Western Committee of Cork County Council, Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) suggested that maybe the time had come to assemble the nation’s media at a playpark in Shannonvale that is leaking sewage upstream of a water intake pipe.
‘What is going on in Shannonvale is appalling. Why isn’t this being taken more seriously?’ he asked. ‘Does no one get it? We have an overflow of sewage going into the Argideen River and that is being used to supply the drinking water for Clonakilty.’
Cllr Carroll believes that if more people were aware of the situation there would be ‘uproar’ and indeed there was a kind of uproar at the Western Committee meeting as councillor after councillor expressed their extreme frustration with Irish Water for what they say is a lack of action and a lack of any meaningful communication.
Cllr Aidan Lombard said he had, for example, been campaigning for an upgrade to the watermains in Ballygarvan and that he had, in fact, received confirmation in 2016 that the scheme would be done in 2017.
But he said the scheme hasn’t been done. It has only got worse. And he estimated that there have been 20 water breaks in the meantime.
He estimated that each breakage is costing in the region of €25,000, ‘so already a half a million has been wasted.’
Cllr Lombard said he had received confirmation that Irish Water had approved €1,175,000 to renew 4.7km of watermains from Ballinhassig village to Ballygarvan village and that the project would commence in ‘the start of quarter four in 2017.’
Then he said they heard nothing more, which prompted him to ask: ‘Where has it gone and what was it spent on?’
Between Ballygarvan and Ballinhassig, Cllr Lombard said there are 100 people employed in business who continue to be adversely affected by these water breaks.
‘When they have no water, they have to close their businesses,’ he said.
Cllr Lombard – who said ‘the carry-on of Irish Water is unacceptable’ – wasn’t the only councillor to voice his anger at the meeting
Like other councillors he claimed the clinic system – whereby the councillors go to meet Irish Water representatives at County Hall – was ‘a way of people hiding.’
He said the system of ringing in and logging a complaint isn’t working either, because they need to be able to talk with the person who is actually responsible for approving the works. Claims that Irish Water doesn’t have the resources to come and meet the Council members was also rejected by Cllr Lombard who made the point: ‘There are 100 people in rural Ireland – in the Ballygarvan area – dependent on them and they don’t give a damn about them.’
Kevin Morey, the county engineer and director of services for water, suggested that an approach would be made to Irish Water seeking to have a meeting to discuss ‘high priority items’. Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) said the Irish Water representatives should be told: ‘It is not an ambush, we want constructive engagement.’
She also said: ‘We should ask them to have their homework done so they can understand the real issues, like the sewage seeping up next to water pipes, because the situation will be dire if we don’t deal with it now.’
Regarding Shannonvale, Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said: ‘We have been shown images of excrement coming up through the ground and it has been left up to locals to tidy this up themselves.’
He complained that the issue has featured on the Council’s quarterly Western Committee reports on 10 or 12 occasions over the last two years, and said: ‘We are making no headway. It is a disgrace.’
An Irish Water spokesperson said an assessment of the Shannonvale Waste Water Treatment Plant is expected to be completed by last quarter of this year. ‘Irish Water have identified that there is a requirement for remediation works ahead of any infrastructure project at Shannonvale,’ said a statement.