A number of homeowners in Schull are living in fear that their water is about to be disconnected.
Standing orders were suspended at a meeting of the Western Committee of Cork County Council at the request of Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) who said several people living in Skeagh are ‘deeply distressed’ about the situation.
Irish Water, in partnership with Cork County Council, is currently working on upgrading 10km of trunk main that connects Schull to the Skibbereen Water Supply Scheme.
The works also involve the provision of a treated water storage reservoir in Schull and decommissioning an old water treatment plant in Skeagh.
One person living in the area, Peter Dillon, spoke to The Southern Star about his predicament.
He said he was approached by people working on the project and told that in three months’ time the mains water to his property was going to be cut off.
‘I was told that if I want to continue to have mains water I will have to find where the water pipes are coming on to my property from the old reservoir,’ he said.
Mr Dillon said he was also told that he would have to provide the trench works, and the new pipes required to connect his property – approximately 400m – to the new water pipe on the Durrus Road.
He said: ‘I believe this project was three years in the making, so I don’t understand why Irish Water is now approaching homeowners with this information.’
Mr Dillon said he was told that failure to do this work would mean that he would be disconnected from the mains water supply.
Mr Dillon, who is a stuntman by profession but hasn’t worked since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, described the cost of carrying out such works – namely the engagement of an engineer, a digger driver, as well as the supply and laying of pipes – as ‘simply not feasible.’
He was adamant that when the engineers called to his property ‘they did not make it clear that to remain with the existing water mains was an option. I was told that the old reservoir that serves my house is being decommissioned.’
The stuntman complained that nothing from Irish Water, or Cork County Council, has been put in writing and he asked for clarification about what exactly will happen when the new water mains is finalised.
The homeowner referred to the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities and a provision that states, ‘Irish Water is prohibited from disconnecting any domestic property.’
A spokesperson for Irish Water confirmed: ‘Project engineers have recently been discussing options to connect to the new scheme with homeowners in the Skeagh area whose water supply is provided from the old water treatment plant in Skeagh, which will eventually be decommissioned as part of this project.’
The spokesperson said: ‘A water main from Skeagh water treatment plant that crosses private property connects these homeowners to that supply. A new water main is being constructed along public roads near these houses and the homeowners have been offered a connection to the new water main via a boundary box that would be located close to their properties on the public road. The homeowners then have the option of completing their private side connections to the new water main.
The spokesperson told The Southern Star that ‘only three houses would have to do those private side works.’
Irish Water said that ‘should homeowners in the area not wish to complete their private side connections to the new water mains located in the public road near their properties, their existing water supplies, whether they are from private side wells, or water mains crossing private property, will continue to operate as they are at present.’
Speaking on behalf of the residents who contacted him directly, Cllr Collins said: ‘Some residents have been told their water will be disconnected and they will have to pay to have it connected. They have been told this with no prior notice and some are in a state of deep shock over it.’
Cllr Collins said he wanted Irish Water and the Council to clarify the situation immediately.