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Water situation improves in town

NO water cut-offs are scheduled in the Ennis town area for the coming days but Ennis Town Council continue to closely monitor the situation, according to the town engineer, Eamonn O’Dea.
Speaking at this week’s monthly meeting of the council, Mr O’Dea said the reservoir levels are now full, having dropped critically on the Wednesday after Christmas. There are still some problems in the pipe network in some areas of Ennis, including the Doora area and parts of the Kilrush Road but the council is working around the clock to resolve these. The main ongoing issue now is the supply of water to Clarehill, which is currently being supplied from the West Clare supply, a situation that the council hopes will end in the coming days.
In response to a request for an update on the water situation in Ennis from town councillors, Mr O’Dea explained that difficulties had commenced before Christmas. “There were those whose pipes froze and lost their water supply early on but also people left taps running for fear that their pipes would freeze, which compounded the problem,” he said.
“Between Christmas Day and December 28, we had a swing of 20 degrees in temperatures. On Wednesday morning after Christmas, reservoir levels continued to drop and it became critical so we had to shut down water supplies to build up water levels again. The main shutdowns were at night. We defined areas of water losses and problems and eliminated them for the following night. We turned off supply to unoccupied premises, including homes and businesses,” the engineer added.
Councillor Michael Guilfoyle said he had no criticism of how the council had handled the situation but said everyone needs to learn from what happened.
“We better take it that this will happen again, so clear procedures must be in place,” he said. He added that now is the time for people to check if pipe insulation is damaged and to improve insulation, before there are freezing conditions again.
Councillor Frankie Neylon commented that the main advice given on the street was to leave one or even two taps running.
“This wastes so much water per house. That’s a big part of the problem. We need to get through to people who do that because that is a big reason for the reservoir level dropping. They might have kept their own water but they messed it up for others. One thing for sure is people won’t leave their taps running when they are being charged for water use.”
Councillor Peter Considine asked if schools due to reopen next week could be sure that they will have water. Mr O’Dea said water supplies at unoccupied businesses and schools were turned off on December 27.
“We let them know that the supply was being turned off. In all public broadcasts relating to water we have asked all bodies, including businesses and schools, to check before their first day back after the Christmas break that all is well with the water supply. That way, we can deal with problems in advance of their scheduled reopening, rather than when they reopen,” he commented.
Councillor Meaney said people will not listen when it comes to advice not to leave a tap running. He suggested that the council establish a minimum flow rate, which people could use to leave a tap running that would not adversely affect reservoir levels but would stop pipes freezing. “We need to be creative with this,” he said.
Mr O’Dea further explained that on December 26, water consumption levels rose to 18.600m3 (normally less than 15,000m3), rising again to 19,300m3 on December 27. Up until January 4, the council repaired 331 individual services to houses. An additional 30 to 50 services were repaired by individual contractors in areas not yet taken in charge by the council. In addition, four water mains that burst were repaired.
“The council also had to deal with issues at the Clarehill reservoir in Clarecastle, which necessitated water to be hauled from the West Clare supply. Because of the issues on the Kilrush Road, we weren’t in a position to serve Clarecastle,” he stated.
The council continue to monitor particular locations and are still drawing water by road to Clarehill and will continue to do this for at least a number of days.
As of Wednesday, he said there are no scheduled water cut-offs in the Ennis area but that the public would be notified if they are needed in the coming days or weeks.
“While supply is back to normal mainly now, certain parts of town, due to network capabilities, are still at reduced pressure. That will continue. We still have some problems in parts of town, including the Kilrush Road. Slowly but surely we are getting ourselves back to where we should be,” the town engineer added.
The county council dealt with up to 500 calls per day regarding water problems, with up to 50 calls per day going unanswered due to the huge backlog in dealing with crisis enquiries.

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