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Installations too close to ground

UP to 2,000 houses in Clare have service pipes, stopcocks and water meters installed too close to the ground, causing serious problems in cold weather and costing over €1 million to repair.

At the September meeting of the local authority, Councillor Gerry Flynn put forward a motion asking that the council carry out a survey of recent work by contractors and to provide funding for such problems to be rectified.
In his response, David Timlin stated, “The past two severe winters showed that large numbers of houses built since the mid to late ’90s have had service pipes, stopcocks and meters installed too close to the ground surface, contrary to normal good practice. This led to many instances of freezing, thawing and bursts in the very low temperatures experienced.
“In cases where estates have been taken in charge, Clare County Council replaced the stopcock and meter box and in several cases, the service pipe from the mains to the property boundary, following bursts in the winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11. In many cases also where estates had not been taken in charge and where the developer responsible could not be identified or did not come forward, the council also did this work on an ex-gratia basis, for public health reasons and because the loss of water was leading to increased production costs, loss of pressure and supply for other consumers downstream or in higher areas.”
Mr Timlin outlined the scale of the problem. “In all, there are likely to be in the order of 1,500 to 2,000 of these installations still remaining in the county, between estates in charge and those not in charge. To excavate to the main, lay a new service pipe from main to stopcock, install a new stopcock and meter box and reinstate surfaces would cost about €750 each on average. Thus the total cost of the work for the county would be about €1.1 million to €1.5m. This is based only on approximate figures to give indicative figures of the likely cost of rectification. This does not include continuing the service pipe through the garden or driveway into the house this being the responsibility of the property owner.”
Councillor Flynn said he hoped there won’t be another deep freeze this winter, but if there is there will be “a plethora of problems”.
Fellow Independent councillor PJ Ryan said that he was aware of new houses in Sixmilebridge where the valves were only five to six inches below the ground.
Mr Timlin said he wasn’t aware of any source of funding for the work suggested. He also said difficulties aren’t limited to any one place or type of house.


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