*Cathal O’Loughlin with a sample of the water after returning to the system. 

BUSINESSES in Miltown Malbay are at their wits end over continued water outages in the town.

For the past two Sundays, burst water mains have impacted on the supply of water to households in Miltown Malbay, Spanish Point and Quilty.

Owner of O’Loughlin’s Bar and Restaurant, Cathal O’Loughlin took over the family business in 1997, it has been in operation in the heart of Miltown Malbay since 1979. Issues regarding water have been ongoing for the past ten to fifteen years, he outlined.

Not just is there consequences regarding lack of supply but when the water returns the colour is far from clear, he pointed out while holding a bottle full of brown water which emerged from the taps after an outage. “The water can’t be touched, that is our biggest fear, when the water comes back after it breaks our biggest fear is when do we drink it, when are we able to drink it, there is a lot of illnesses going around, people with cancerous ailments and we all have one thing in common and that’s the water, I often wonder if it is coming from the taps”.

This view has been shared by other locals, he said. “I am in the bar business so I talk with and meet a lot of people who have been involved in water systems and testing waters, how come the water gets so clear, what do they add to the water and what are they putting into our system, they reckon the stuff they put into the treatment plants if you were to spill it on the concrete ground it would burn a hole in it”.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Cathal commented, “When the pressure comes on the system the pipes start breaking and then sometimes when it is our busiest time the pressure is on and pipes break, they have to send guys out to fix and repair it so then the whole hullabaloo of the water coming through the system and the metres, the state of the water coming through has damaged electric showers, washing machines, ice machines, the majority of our stuff is operated through water. All we need is for someone to come, have a look and fix it, I know it won’t happen overnight, it will take a while”.

Electric showers, dishwashers, glass washers and ice machines have all broken on his premises because of the water outages and quality. “I’m after dumping an ice machine and I had to get a new one in from Clare Bar Supplies, Eddie put filters in to try counteract that and that’s more cost but hopefully it will work. It is up to me, everytime the water breaks I have to run around and turn off all the machines, apologise then to people who are staying from different parts of the world and different parts of the country that we have no water and they can’t have a shower or drink the water, luckily enough we can go to SuperValu or Londis to get bottles of water to beat the band but we look poorly in their eyes when they can’t, they have paid good money but they can’t have a shower or a glass of water”.

Financially the implication of the outages for the last two Sundays was between €4,000 to €5,000 for him while overall he calculated it has cost from €10,000 to €15,000 with closures and fixing the showers.

Eight double rooms are part of the overhead accommodation at O’Loughlins. “It is important that the showers and the drinking water are working for them. We have eight double rooms, they are coming from all over the world and next week they will be all over the world and coming here, it will look bad if we can’t get it right”.

He continued, “The fear is there that it could go and it has gone in the middle of the week, we’ve been running with buckets of water to try flush the toilets, I have a water harvester out the back so I’m running from there to fill the toilets with buckets of water, we have between 8,000 to 10,000 people in the town for the week and using toilets but we’re left running with buckets of water to try flush the toilets and give apologies to people who can’t wash their hands because there is no water. If it happens during the week we will be at our wits end because we have enough to be doing to try do what we have to do besides running with water”.

Cathal told The Clare Echo, “We have enough to be doing besides then having to try get water and think about having to wash the plates, cutlery and glasses, it all piles up, last weekend the whole two sinks were full of pots, pans so we’re left to wait until the water comes back on or close to reboot the system and clean everything to get it going again”.

Uisce Éireann have been of little assistance to local businesses, Cathal said. “We’ve asked Irish Water to send somebody to talk to us but nobody has come near us”. He continued, “There is nobody there. We’re not paying for the water, we’re paying for the services to bring the water to us, we’ve no problem with that, I know the services have to be maintained and that is not cheap, the water is free we all know that but it is getting the water to us. They need to come up with a new system, repairing the old line isn’t going to help, dig a new line from Coore to Miltown, there was another service back in the day in Rockmount, when the water used to go John Fitzgerald used to reroute the water, he was one man working and we were never without water, we’d get the water fixed and it would be clear before it would come back, he made sure the town always had good water and now he is retired”.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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