CONCERN at ongoing delays in upgrading the water service in the Miltown Malbay area has prompted one local woman to go public on the matter, saying that a fourth outage in as many weeks, has put her family and her livestock at risk.
In a letter to The Clare Champion, Dolores Murphy of Rineen described a litany of issues that she and her neighbours have endured in recent years. While Irish Water has apologised for the situation, the utility has confirmed that it will be 2021 before all works to secure the supply are completed.
Last week, a burst water main led to an outage affecting Miltown Malbay, Mullagh, Spanish Point, Cree, Cooraclare and those on surrounding Group Water Schemes. Commenting on the situation, Mrs Murphy, wrote: “It has come to the point where I can no longer sit in silence. In the past month (four calendar weeks) we have been without water four times. The latest interruption to service being just three days apart. On that occasion, not a drop of water was to be had for 28 hours. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic there are currently seven adults in the house (as my adult children are working from home during this lock-down). Four females and three males. Each who have the right to a safe and hygenic home environment. Government guidelines clearly state frequent washing of hands is a must in terms of preventing the spread of Coronavirus. How are we supposed to follow this advice?”
Mrs Murphy’s letter also detailed the impact of the regular outages on her farm. “On more than one occasion this winter I have had to release my animals form their outhouse and walk them through silage fields to get to the river,” she wrote. “This was not ideal, given the poor weather conditions we experienced this winter. It also damaged the ground that I rely on for grass in the summer. On those occasions, had I not taken action, my animals would have been without water for 48 hours.”
Local man Joe Cullen, who lives in Miltown, called for a public meeting to address local concerns: “Irish Water should come and explain the situation. It’s 2020, not 1920, and outages are causing severe hardship, particularly for farmers.”
One of the underlying difficulties is the complexity of the supply netowrk in the Miltown area, Councillor Shane Talty explailned: “It breaks down between Irish Water services and Group Water Schemes. Any outage has a catastrophic knock-on impact on those supplied by the schemes. While Irish Water might be able to fix an outage and restore water in the town in a matter of hours, it could take three to four days for those on schemes to get their supply back.” Councillor Talty said he has raised the issue with Clare County Council several times: “I have been critical of Irish Water and eventually got confirmation at the March meeting that their works won’t be complete until 2021. The fact of the matter is that somebody somewhere has given priority to other projects, and in the meantime, there are devastating issues in the Miltown area for business, for farmers, and in terms of public health, particularly in the context of Covid-19.”
Councillor Talty said that, in the interim while Irish Water is working on 4.3kms of the network from Annagh Bridge to Mullagh, which has a target completion date of early next year, he wants more support for group schemes. “I am imploring Irish Water and the council to work with the group schemes because outages are likely to continue until the upgrade is finished,” he said.
In the first phase of works on the local network, Irish Water has replaced a 12km section of the mains from Miltown to Mullagh.