We’re all familiar with the ditty, The pub with no Beer, but a busy pub and restaurant in East Clare was without a proper water service last weekend, after a major leak occurred in Whitegate.
Publican at the Half Barrel, Batt O’Riordan and his local representative, Councillor Pat Burke, were surprised that Irish Water did not consider the “major leak” to be an emergency. They were equally surprised when Irish Water said they could not come out until Monday and advised them to contact the local authority emergency number.
The issue was reported on Saturday evening. A member of Clare County Council assessed the situation that day but was not in a position to repair the leak. Irish Water did come out on Monday morning and repaired the leak.
In the meantime, the Half Barrel operated its business with the assistance of a neighbour who was able to run a hose to their water tank.
Batt O’Riordan said Irish Water didn’t see it as a priority. “It was a stopcock that burst. It was an emergency. If you have no water in a hospital, what do you do? If you have no water in a food business, what do you do? No water in your house, what do you do? I think it is a disgrace, quite honestly.”
He added that when Clare County Council were in charge of the water, “there was no problem”.
He continued, “There was a local fella and he would come out. Only for the water I got from the neighbour I was kept going but I had to watch it all day. You’d imagine there would be some sort of service on weekends. If the ESB went out on Saturday and they didn’t turn it on until Monday, wouldn’t there be uproar?”
Whitegate councillor, Pat Burke described the issue on Saturday as “a major leak” and said when he contacted Irish Water, he was directed to the emergency county council number.
“I got through and the council did send out someone and they said that’s a job for a crew from Irish Water to deal with on Monday morning. From what I could gather, it wasn’t considered an emergency,” he said.
Councillor Burke said the interim solution was to keep the water tower filled up, even though the water was leaking.
“Water was flowing away down the road and they would deal with it on Monday morning, which wasn’t entirely satisfactory. Batt O’Riordan is trying to run a busy pub and restaurant there,” he said.
A spokesperson for Irish Water said, “Irish Water, working through its partner Clare County Council, took steps to address this issue as soon as it was reported. Action was taken on Saturday evening, when the problem was first reported on the emergency line and followed up on Monday morning to fully resolve the issue. This was just one such issue that Irish Water and Clare County Council responded to in the area over the same weekend.”
She went on to say, “Unfortunately, significant under-investment in the water network throughout Ireland means that there are challenges to providing a consistent level of supply to customers and, from time to time, there are disruptions to service based on breakages or failures on the network. However, Irish Water, in partnership with local authorities, are working hard not only to improve the network but to also provide appropriate level of customer service.”
Mr O’Riordan said his concern is the issue could happen again. He said the pub is already affected by poor water pressure, particularly during busy holiday periods and good weather.
“We’re not at the height of the summer yet, wait ’til the August weekend and I’ll bet there won’t be a drop of water. We are the first to get affected in Whitegate because we’re very high up.
“If that tank wasn’t kept full, the toilets would have dried up. It is a total inconvenience. They were told about it on Saturday afternoon and they didn’t come until Monday,” he said.
Councillor Burke said he does not know how low pressure and leakages can be resolved in the long-term and said he would call for “the reservoir in Whitegate to be kept filled at all times, whatever that takes”.
“There are ongoing difficulties, particularly with increased demand. There is no shortage of water from the water source. It is good quality water and there is plenty of it but if the reservoir isn’t kept topped up, then the Half Barrel experience problems,” Councillor Burke concluded.
By Carol Byrne