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*Photograph: Arthur Ellis

Ongoing water outages in Miltown Malbay have been criticised leading to calls for Irish Water to communicate supply interruptions in a timely manner.

Agreement of a “robust service agreement” between Clare County Council and Irish Water to “ensure that information regarding water supply interruptions can be communicated to the public in a timely manner” was requested by Cllr Shane Talty (FF) at the March meeting of the local authority.

On the ground situations need to be informed to Irish Water systems to allow for “accurate answers and estimates” on service resumption to be issued to the public, the Ennistymon representative believed.

A service level agreement between both parties is already in existence, senior engineer Cyril Feeney highlighted. Customer contact is dealt with by Irish Water under the contract with Council staff liaising with them to report on disruptions to supply. “Irish Water also employ private sector contractors for capital works who equally have the same obligations in reporting disruptions to supply directly to Irish Water. It is Irish Water’s responsibility to relay that information to their customers”.

Timely and accurate information must be relayed to the public, Cllr Talty stated. He highlighted that households in Miltown Malbay went 72 hours without water at the end of February. “Nothing compares with a mother trying to run a home without water for three days and is trying to plan ahead,” he commented.

Advanced notification is given to schools when it comes to water outages allowing for closures, Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) said as he struggled to comprehend why the same system was not adhered for scheduled works.

“If you contact Irish Water to tell them you have a vulnerable person you get the text and are notified,” Cllr Susan Crawford (GP) flagged. She maintained the same correspondence can also be issued to all persons affected in a locality from an outage. “I’m of the opinion that Irish Water policy has been a failure,” Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) remarked.

Adequate time to prepare must be given to the public, Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) felt. “There is nothing you can do with an uncontrolled outage but for a controlled outage it is a disgrace when people are not told it is happening. Prior to Irish Water, there was stuff put in local media and leaflets done when maintenance work was to be done”.

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