Irish Water labelled 'a disgrace' as the taps in Tipperary's largest town go dry

Eamonn Wynne


Eamonn Wynne



Water cuts

Homes and businesses in several areas of Clonmel were left without water last weekend

Irish Water has been branded “a disgrace” after several businesses in Clonmel’s town centre, as well as homes in the northern and Mountain Road areas of the town were left without water last weekend.

A period of adverse weather and resulting operational issues led to supply interruptions over the weekend in the town and surrounding areas, according to Irish Water, which has apologised to customers for any interruptions.

Some businesses in the town centre were forced to close their doors from teatime on Friday until Monday morning during what was a busy weekend, with the town hosting its annual busking festival.

Homes in Ard na Sidhe, Ard Aoibhinn, Dromard Crescent, Ard Gaoithe, Cashel Road and Ard Caoin were also affected.

Clonmel TD Seamus Healy accused Irish Water of treating the people of Clonmel with contempt, and called for its abolition and the return of water services to local councils.

Richie Fennessy, owner of Fennessy's Hotel in Gladstone Street, said that he and several other small businesses in the town were very angry over what happened.

"Irish Water is a disgrace, full stop. It's another layer of needless bureaucracy", he stated.

He said the hotel and bar had no water, apart from what they had brought in themselves, which included bottled water bought in Lidl.

The hotel accommodated 28 guests over the weekend, but the water taps were dry in the bedrooms, the kitchen and the bar. 

"The toilets couldn't be flushed. We had a glass washer in the bar and two dishwashers upstairs that couldn't be used. 

“It virtually closed the place and the situation was very embarrassing", he said.

However he said that the guests were very understanding.

"One English visitor told me that if this happened where he came from the problem would be fixed in an hour".

Mr. Fennessy said that Irish Water and Tipperary County Council "take our money diligently in water charges and commercial rates  but they don't provide a proper service. For the past few days they have provided no water service, while the decent business people of Clonmel travelled to the Ragwell Road with their containers and churns to fill water from the Spout.

"Clonmel is gone back in the clock 100 years. Most of Irish Water and the council probably don't even know where the Spout is, let alone the Ragwell Road".

Above - Clonmel hotelier Richie Fennessy is very angry over water cuts in the town last weekend 

He said that the very same thing happened this time last year, during a summer drought, but no lessons had been learned since.

"As a native of Clonmel, who was born in Sarsfield Street, I have watched the council over the last 20 years stand over the steady, bit-by-bit, shop-by-shop decline and denigration of the entire Clonmel town centre, to the point of virtual closure.

"Having no water during the all-important busking festival is part of the heartless denigration of the town we love.

"How dare they (the council) and how dare Irish Water destroy the name Cluain Meala", he added.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Irish Water said that it and Tipperary County Council had restored water supply to customers in Clonmel who were affected by supply disruptions over the weekend due to a number of separate issues in the town.

“We would like to apologise to customers for the inconvenience caused by these interruptions and thank them for their patience as we worked to resolve them.

“Irish Water works in partnership with Tipperary County Council to safeguard water supplies for customers throughout Tipperary. As part of this our customer care line (1850 278 278) is open to deal with queries or customer concerns 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week. When we become aware of an operational issue at any time, including weekends, we will take appropriate action to restore water supply as quickly as possible. As with any live operational issue, the time required to address it can vary depending on the nature of the problem.

“Crews were on the ground in Clonmel throughout the weekend dealing with a number of separate issues associated with adverse weather and resulting operational issues, which led to water supply outages in a number of different parts of the town. Experts from Irish Water and Tipperary County Council worked closely together to address what were very complex issues impacting on the water supply.

“Should any customer continue to have issues with their supply, they should contact the Irish Water customer care line at 1850 278 278”.

Irish Water stated that Clonmel town and the surrounding area is served by a combination of ground and surface water sources, with water treatment plants at Monroe (ground water), Glenary (surface water) and Poulavanogue (surface water). 

“Heavy rain last Thursday night and Friday affected incoming water quality serving Poulavanogue water treatment plant, and the plant had to be turned off on Friday. Glenary remained fully operational throughout the adverse weather, and parts of the town and area normally served by Poulavanogue were switched to supply from Glenary treatment plant.  This resulted in intermittent service and reduced pressure to some customers as the system filled.

“Works were carried out at Poulavanogue treatment plant to return the plant to normal service and water was reintroduced to the system early on Tuesday morning. However further issues occurred with airlocks, which affected supply to parts of Clonmel town centre, which required further remedial work. In the meantime we continued to supplement the supply from Glenary Water Treatment Plant to maintain supply to the majority of customers. 

“Separate arrangements were made to provide a water supply to the Mountain Road area and alternative water supplies were made available at Hillview in the Mountain Road area while the supply was being restored.

“Separately, there was a pump failure serving the Giantsgrave strategic reservoir on the Monroe Scheme, which occurred on Sunday. The pumps were repaired as quickly as possible once we became aware of the issue.

“However, during the course of the repairs the reservoir emptied, leading to outages affecting customers in the Cashel Road and northern area of Clonmel. It took some time for reservoir levels to recover and a normal supply to be restored to affected customers.

“In addition to addressing day-to-day operational issues, Irish Water is also investing in capital upgrades to address the most critical issues impacting on water supply.

“Due to a lack of investment over many years, much of Ireland’s water treatment and supply network is in need of upgrading and it will take sustained investment over many years to bring it up to an adequate standard.

“To date we have made significant investments throughout the country and in many areas of Tipperary”, the statement concluded.

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