Irish Water slammed at Clonmel Borough District meeting
“Water outages seem to happen at the worst times possible and communication with Irish Water is very, very difficult,” Mayor of Clonmel Garret Ahearn told this month’s meeting of the Borough District.
“I was in the Department of Housing when Irish Water was high on the list and I remember trying to defend it, but seeing it from this perspective leaves a lot to be desired. I have situations where people are three weeks waiting for simple things to be done like low water pressure in rural areas. You go through the system, but the problems don’t seem to be fixed,” he continued.
Mayor Ahearn queried the purpose of councillors having workshops with Irish Water officials “when answers don’t seem to come back from questions put forward.”
Cllr Michael Murphy acknowledged the support of the water services team in Tipperary County Council for helping to keep the citizens of Clonmel updated. “Whatever about being without water, but the lack of communication is frustrating. There was a recent outage linked to the Galtee water supply which affected areas like New Inn and Poulmucka and there were provision of some water tankers. When I rang Irish Water, it said one had been sent to Dualla, which is a long way from New Inn,” he highlighted.
Cllr Siobhan Ambrose said Irish Water hasn’t worked. “It’s nothing short of a disaster. You ring them and they don’t know any of the areas. They might ask you ‘is that near Kildare or Mayo?’. It’s quite shocking,” she said.
Cllr Ambrose called on Irish Water to give notification to residents of planned works. “There has to be a water outage for 24 hours before a tanker can be called. I’ve asked Irish Water to review this,” she added.
Cllr Pat English said Poulavangue and Glenary water treatment plants have been “abandoned and left to fend for themselves.”
Tipperary County Council director of services for water and planning Marcus O’Connor said there is a major scheme being planned to extract water from the River Suir, which will give Clonmel the “modern treatment capacity that it deserves.” He said: “There’s no doubt the outages in Clonmel have become more frequent. The reason for that is that we got more intense localised rainfall. There’s also an intrinsic difficulty with treatment plants, particularly with Poulavangue. It’s not a plant suitable for a modern town like Clonmel.”
Poulavangue is continually susceptible to a high raw water colour and has been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for remedial action. Raw water quality regularly affects the quality and operation of the plant during and after high rainfall.
It is council procedure that when no water is available from Poulavanogue, which occurs four to five times per annum, water is diverted from the Glenary water supply scheme to the town centre. This is dependent on storage availability and can be for no longer than four to five days.
For reasons of water quality and supply, going forward it has been agreed that the Poulavanogue water treatment plant will be shut down in advance of heavy rainfall events and the scheme swapped over to Glenary during normal working hours. The high areas of the Mountain Road will be supplied by tankers. A follow up action, which is
required by the EPA to protect water quality, is that the Poulavanogue water treatment plant will be shut off automatically when turbidity reaches a critical level. It is Irish Water's aim to replace this supply with an alternative source or treatment in the near future, according to council management.
“The plant at Glenary is a bit better. It was built in 1960 but again it’s not a very modern plant and it’s supplied from a source which is susceptible to pollution, E. coli and cryptosporidium,” Mr O’Connor added.
In response, Cllr English said the people of Clonmel are happy with their water supply. “We shouldn’t be putting all our eggs in one basket,” he said, before criticising a lack of investment in the Glenary and Poulavangue water treatment plants.
“The big project is years away and people in this town will have to suffer,” Cllr English added.