Cork residents whose personal household supply has been deemed unfit to use since last year have criticised Irish Water for providing them with "manky" water from a back-up tanker.
Maura Shields (61) - living in Belvelly, Cobh, Co Cork - complained to Irish Water over the weekend after her husband saw discoloured and unclean water coming from a back-up water station in Cois Fota.
Irish Water have installed two water tankers - one in Cois Fota and another in Ticknock - since issuing a 'do not use' notice to Belvelly, Cobh, Co Cork, 15 months' ago.
The Shields home is among 70 properties that are without a clean water supply. The issue comes at a time when more than 600,000 people in the Greater Dublin Area are under a boil water notice for the second time in a fortnight due to fresh problems at the Leixlip Water Treatment Plant.
“On Friday, my husband went to get water from the tanker. He realised the water coming out of the tanker was filthy. I contacted Irish Water saying: "This water is contaminated, we don’t know what’s in it, you need to take it away and let the residents know not to use it'," Ms Shields said.
“They did nothing until they took it out on Sunday morning."
Ms Shields is unable to use the tap water in her home because it "stinks of chlorine".
“They haven’t been able to get the chlorine levels right further in from us so they’re dousing it with chlorine. Because of that, the water is clear, we don’t have the brown dirty water unless they go at it - but the water we do have stinks of chlorine.
“We can’t use it at all. We still have a ‘Do Not Use’ notice," she said.
She said Irish Water informed her that a booster pump needed to be installed to improve the quality of the water supply.
Irish Water previously told Independent.ie that installing the booster pump was part of a National Leakage Reduction Programme that aims to fix and replace damaged pipes nationwide, including Belvelly and Ticknock in Co Cork.
They said the works were expected to be completed in mid-November.
However, Ms Shields said it seemed the works will actually be completed after Christmas.
“They have to put in some pump - there’s all different dates around this. We were told last August it was in, we were told it was there, it wasn’t there, it would be a week, two weeks. Now, at the very best, we know we’re looking at the other side of Christmas.
“They then have at least four to five weeks of water testing to make sure everything is as it should be, so no matter what, if we look at two weeks from now, and put another four weeks on to that we’re on the other side of Christmas."
Being without clean, safe water means means Ms Shields is reluctant to allow friends or family into her home.
She fears Christmas will be ruined because it will be difficult to safely cook or cater for guests without clean water.
“Even small things, things you’d normally do - you’d invite your friends round for dinner of an evening, but they’re always saying to me, ‘Ah no, you can’t, you’d have all the water lifting and everything trying to make the dinner.’
“Or even inviting people to stay when you have, and when I say filthy bathroom, there are times you walk in and say oh my god, if someone uses or flushes the toilet, or the showers. There’s grout and silicone, everything destroyed with rust.
“Even planning Christmas, you lose family Christmases because the volume of work involved in preparing food and having water for a group of people. Then people in the house saying, ‘Make sure the kids don’t drink the water, make sure they don’t brush their teeth'," she said.
“Our confidence is shattered, and shattered with good reason.”
Another Belvelly resident, Ali Cullinane (52), said the water coming from the tankers was “manky”, leaving her to rely on her workplace and friend’s houses for a clean water supply.
“They did provide two tankers of water but that water is absolutely manky. They have one up in the local Lidl and one in Belvelly behind the Martello tower. Right on it it says, ‘Do not drink this water', you have to boil it.
“So the water they have provided has to be boiled. There’s a majority of us that either buys the water or else go to friends' houses and refill," she said.
An Irish Water spokesperson said the water at the Cois Fota station was "immediately replenished" and was sourced from the Irish Water Glashaboy treatment plant.
“Irish Water has two temporary alternative water stations located at Cois Fota and Ticknock for use by the community affected by the Do Not Consume notice at Belvelly. There was a reported issue of discolouration with the alternative water station at Cois Fota over the weekend,” the spokesperson said.
“On becoming aware of this, the water at the station in Cois Fota was immediately replenished. The water provided at both alternative water stations is treated drinking water taken from our water treatment plant in Glashaboy.
“Consumers are always advised to boil water taken from a temporary alternative water station before use,” they added.