An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (FG) has confirmed he will seek an update from Irish Water on the sought improvement of outdated infrastructure in West Clare.
Queries have been made to the Taoiseach on the ongoing water outages in West Clare during the pandemic by Deputy Joe Carey (FG) and in Dáil Éireann on Thursday by Michael McNamara (IND).
Miltown Malbay has experienced four water outages in as many weeks during the pandemic. Over a 19 day period, locals have been without water on 8 occasions.
Irish Water have stated that supply issues will not be completed until 2021. The first phase of works has been completed with the second phase that covers Mullagh and Annagh Bridge to be finished next year.
“More than 10 pipes have burst in the last 5 months leaving us and many others without water for days at a time. Essential works need to be done but have been put off. The pandemic has just highlighted how essential these works really are,” one resident told The Clare Echo.
Speaking in Dáil Éireann, Clare TD McNamara stated that ‘wash your hands’ was “perhaps the only consistent mantra” from Government and health officials during the COVID-19 pandemic. He highlighted that many residents in West Clare have been unable to complete that simple piece of advice.
“Throughout West Clare, there are a number of water schemes which have completely outdated water mains, Cooraclare, Doonbeg, Miltown Malbay, one of them in particular has broken down four times since this pandemic arrived in Ireland. The Irish Water staff locally have done an excellent job locally in repairing it each time but twice in the past three years that water main was the subject of a contract to replace, it hasn’t happened. The problem is not the length of time it is out in Miltown Malbay, there are group water schemes around Miltown Malbay where they pay their water charges and which are reliant on the water, in those group water schemes the water is out for days on end, five days was the last of four outages in one instance,” he stated.
McNamara acknowledged that it was not the Taoiseach’s role to manage water mains but noted that the Government was the ultimate shareholder in Irish Water. “Would you accept that it is not good enough for people to be without water for days on end but particularly at this time, will you have somebody in your Department find out what Irish Water is going to do to replace those mains. While the staff locally are fixing them when they break down which is every couple of days, that is great but it’s not enough, they need to be replaced”.
Varadkar agreed with the sentiments expressed by the Scariff native. “Water mains that need to be repaired should be repaired and replaced when they need to be replaced. Deputy Carey mentioned this to me as well, I will make enquiries with Irish Water about that and find out if we can get the work done and done quickly. We all know the importance of clean water in terms of public health and general hygiene”.