IRISH Water don’t have any interest in West Cork’s villages and need to be brought to heel.
That was the sentiment of angry councillors at a recent Western Division meeting after county engineer, Kevin Morey, said he had been informed that Irish Water was unable to meet the councillors because some personnel weren’t available.
In January – at one of the most heated meetings ever – the public representatives vented their fury at the lack of access to anyone in Irish Water with any real authority, and the futility of the Irish Water clinics at County Hall.
It was agreed that they would attempt to have a serious meeting with Irish Water officials to highlight some chronic problems, such as sewage at a park in Shannonvale leaking into Clonakilty’s water supply system, and more than 25 water hugely wasteful breaks at Darrara.
Mr Morey did, however, have some good news. He said Irish Water had confirmed that the Darrara project, as well as a 5km water main for Ballygarvan, are now to be included on Irish Water’s leak reduction programme. But he admitted: ‘There is no timeline yet for the programme.’
There was also confirmation that the Castletownshend sewerage scheme – which was the subject of High Court proceedings due to pollution of the bay – and the Castletownbere sewerage scheme, are now due to be constructed over an 18-month period from mid-2021 to the end of 2021.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) welcomed both announcements but was still of the opinion that there is ‘no real progress.’ And he described the fact that Irish Water is not responding to the situation at Shannonvale as ‘appalling.’
With sewage coming up through the ground at a park in Shannonvale, he said there is a very real risk of it leaching into the Argideen River at Jones Bridge, which is the intake point for Clonakilty’s water supply.
Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said: ‘It is a dreadful situation for the community up there – it has become a no-go zone.’
He complained: ‘Irish Water personnel have no interest in attending these meetings but they should be called in to account for their sins.’
The county engineer, Kevin Morey, clarified one issue. He said the presence of sewage would ‘shut down the intake’ and this ensures that the water supply at Jones Bridge is safe.
Mr Morey said Irish Water now says that the proposed Shannonvale sewerage scheme will be assessed and prioritised under the National Certificate of Authorisations Programme (NCAP).
As a result, he said any capital works needed in Shannonvale – outside of capital maintenance – will be assessed and prioritised under the NCAP.
However, Irish Water clarified that all infrastructure upgrades and extensions necessary to facilitate the connection of new developments in Shannonvale to the Irish Water networks would need to be ‘developer funded.’
Cllr O’Sullivan complained it wasn’t a definitive enough answer to what is a pressing problem and he said the Government should be petitioned ‘to do away with Irish Water altogether and give water management back to the Council’.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) agreed that ‘an enhanced water section within the Council would make more headway. Dealing with Irish Water is very frustrating,’ he added, ‘at the very least they could appoint a liaison officer.’
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) agreed there is ‘conflicting information is coming out from their clinics.’ He maintained: ‘Irish Water needs to be brought to heel.’
County mayor Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) said they should repeat their demand for a meeting because ‘Irish Water needs to know how frustrated we are. Irish Water doesn’t seem to have any interest in small towns and villages in West Cork.’
Cllr Joe Carroll joined in the debate once again, saying: ‘There hasn’t been a meeting in the last three years at which Irish Water hasn’t been criticised.
‘This forum is being ignored and treated very badly. We are hitting our heads off the wall.’