SHANNON water supply is to flow an hour earlier from this Thursday, as the county council bowed to calls from local councillors to ease the rationing of supplies in response to severe water loss during the big freeze.
But an end to the rationing with supplies cut off from 8pm to 8am is not yet in sight. Responding to sharp criticism from Shannon Electoral Area councillors at their meeting on Tuesday, senior executive engineer, Eugene O’Shea indicated that a turn-on from 7am is intended from Thursday. But he added that “there are still a number of leaks that we are working on”. Nevertheless, he said he was hopeful that daytime supplies would be restored, “although it will be a number of days before we get back to normal”.
A full review of the water supply situation is to be undertaken by council engineering staff at the request of councillors but it was acknowledged that this could only get under way when the council has dealt with the major water supply problems that were abruptly inflicted on the county during the protracted cold spell.
Detailing the reasons for the imposition of rationing, Mr O’Shea reported that the “unprecedented number of leaks and breaks during the freeze brought supplies at the Clonmoney Reservoir to a level “that was just enough to supply Shannon Town and industry at Shannon Free Zone and Smithstown during the hours of rationing”.
To councillors who pointed out that they had to face constituents and the complaints that were prompted by the abrupt introduction of rationing, the engineer said he appreciated that the public representatives did and are coming under pressure.
While acknowledging that “none of us were prepared for it”, Councillor Patricia McCarthy voiced a general view from her fellow councillors when taking issue with the timing of the water rationing.
With an airport and major centres of industry, there were many people who start work at 7am or have to clock in by 8am and there were many households in the town of Shannon where children had to be got out to school before 8am in the morning, she outlined. For people who work 12-hour shifts, it could actually mean that they left their homes before the water supply came on and when they got back to their homes, the water supply had been turned off.
She added that in addition to leaks and breaks, there had also been malfunctions with water meters. As the council was in the process of replacing defective or damaged meters, she suggested that recurring water supply problems for people who had built houses at Ballycasey Mór could be addressed by offering the householders access to metered water supply.
Long-standing problems with water supplies in the Cratloe area are set to be tackled this year. This re-assurance was provided in an official response to Councillor John Crowe. In his call for action, he stated that “some areas in Cratloe are without water for days at a time and this has been happening for a number of years”.
Mr O’Shea ascribed the problem to “problematic” water pressures, particularly in elevated areas of Cratloe. A means of boosting pressures had been considered and costed and funding allocated in 2009. “Subject to continued availability of resources, it is proposed to carry out the works in the current year.”