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'You feel like nobody gives a damn' - frustrated residents without drinkable water for over a year

 

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Irish Water issued a 'Do Not Use' notice to Belvelly, Cobh, Co Cork almost 15 months ago. Photo: Maura Shields

Irish Water issued a 'Do Not Use' notice to Belvelly, Cobh, Co Cork almost 15 months ago. Photo: Maura Shields

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Residents of an area in Cork that has been without clean drinking water for over a year say they feel like nobody "give a damn about them".

Ali Cullinane (52) said her home had been without drinkable water since Irish Water issued a 'Do Not Use' notice to Belvelly, Cobh, Co Cork almost 15 months ago.

Ms Cullinane said that she and her daughters - aged 17 and 20 - have had to use bottled water or water hauled from outside the area to carry out every day tasks such as brushing their teeth, washing vegetables or cooking pasta.

"I don't know if the water is safe or not at the moment, to be honest. I mean, it is highly chlorinated. The problem in the whole area is the consistency," she told Independent.ie

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Ali Cullinane

Ali Cullinane

Ali Cullinane

"You'll have somebody next door whose water is orange, then you'll have somebody else whose water seems to be okay, so really you can't trust it. We were told we'd have drinking water by the end of September, and here we are coming in to the end of October.

"We're totally in limbo," she added.

Frustration among residents intensified when a boil water notice issued to large parts of counties Dublin, Kildare and Meath was lifted after 14-hours last week.

The ban was put in place after it was found that cryptosporidium and giardia parasites could have possibly entered the drinking water.

Ms Cullinane said she feels like "nobody gives a damn" about Belvelly residents after seeing the efforts made by Irish Water to lift the ban.

"We're being pawned off. It's just at the point where you feel like nobody actually gives a damn. It's very frustrating for us to see what's going on in Dublin at the moment, and the amount of media attention that's getting and how they're trying to rectify it. Because there's just 70 of us, we don't matter," she added.

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Irish Water issued a 'Do Not Use' notice to Belvelly, Cobh, Co Cork almost 15 months ago. Photo: Maura Shields

Irish Water issued a 'Do Not Use' notice to Belvelly, Cobh, Co Cork almost 15 months ago. Photo: Maura Shields

Irish Water issued a 'Do Not Use' notice to Belvelly, Cobh, Co Cork almost 15 months ago. Photo: Maura Shields

"I've kind of given up in a way. I initially called a community meeting, we had a meeting that was last November. We tried to use the powers-to-be to help us, so we had local politicians and whatever. It's been a whole year of campaigning and yeah, they were supposed to do something - they did dig up the road and put in new pipes but here we are, it's November again and we don't have drinking water."

Ms Cullinane said she knows of 70 houses that have been impacted.

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"It's a pain because we've been advised you can't even wash your vegetables with it, so you have to buy water for everything.

"So if you think of it, you boil a pot of pasta, you have to boil that in bottled water that is not from the tap. If you want to refresh it you can't use water from the tap.

"You can't use it for anything. You can't brush your teeth, you can't cook potatoes. There's nothing you can do with that water.

"I'm not into buying plastic bottles so I tend to buy them, and then for the next six weeks I'll haul them to my place of work or to a friend's house to fill them up," she added.

Stephen Shields (39) lives in the area with his wife and his one-year-old daughter. He said the dangerous water has been a "headache" for his family, including his 92-year-old grandfather living nearby.

"We've a nearly two-years-old child now, so my wife was pregnant through all this. We've had a newborn during all this. It's been a headache to say the least.

"The 'Do Not Use' notice has been in effect since she was six months, and before that we would have been using tap water.

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Irish Water issued a 'Do Not Use' notice to Belvelly, Cobh, Co Cork almost 15 months ago. Photo: Maura Shields

Irish Water issued a 'Do Not Use' notice to Belvelly, Cobh, Co Cork almost 15 months ago. Photo: Maura Shields

Irish Water issued a 'Do Not Use' notice to Belvelly, Cobh, Co Cork almost 15 months ago. Photo: Maura Shields

"We were buying bottled water for quite a bit at the start, but in the end we bought a reverse osmosis filter for under the kitchen tap. We're not 100pc sure if it's taking everything out of it, but it's definitely taking the chlorine and the iron out of it. We're a lot better off than we were, but that's at our own expense then again.

"We've tried to contact them (Irish Water) but all you get is one of their customer service reps who say they'll look into it and then they'll give you log call number, then you'll hear no more.

"My grandfather is 92, he's living in the area too. He's just given up. He doesn't drive anymore, he's gone back to drinking the tap water. He's lucky, we're all in the area so we can bring him water, but if we weren't around he'd have no way of getting water," he added.

A spokesperson for Irish Water said a National Leakage Reduction Programme is in place to fix and replace damaged pipes nationwide, including Belvelly and Ticknock, Co Dublin.

Irish Water expects the water quality to improve once a new booster pump has been installed.

"Irish Water are undertaking a National Leakage Reduction Programme that will fix or replace old and damaged pipes across the Country, ensuring a safer more reliable supply of water to Irish homes and businesses.

"The water network improvement project being delivered in Cobh is part of this programme. Coffey Northumbrian Ltd. is working on behalf of Irish Water to deliver this work," Irish Water told Independent.ie.

"The expected completion date for these works is November 8 2019. There will be some traffic management required from 4 October to 8 November to complete the remainder of the works.

"This project is being delivered to alleviate water quality issues resulting in the ‘Do Not Consume’ restriction which has been in place since August 16th 2018 for householders and businesses in the Belvelly and Ticknock areas.

"Following commissioning and testing of the works in these communities, consideration to lifting the restriction will be carried out in consultation with, and on the advice of, the HSE with whom Irish Water is liaising on an ongoing basis.

"Irish Water regrets any inconvenience that delivery of these vital network improvement works may cause and thank the local community for their continued patience."

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