Monday 23 October 2017

Thousands go without water and heating as pipes burst

Michael McHale and Dara deFaoite

THOUSANDS of homes are without water today and supplies of heating fuel are running low as the cold weather continues.

Local authorities are inundated with complaints of frozen and burst water pipes.

And in some areas, a fall in water supplies has led to many communities having their mains turned off to deal with the demand.

In Carlow and Kilkenny, more than 1,000 householders battled their way through snow yesterday to access emergency water points set up by fire services and local authorities.

Teams of local authority plumbers were also on call around the clock to assist householders whose water and central heating systems have been disrupted by freezing conditions over the weekend.

"The big emergency issues facing householders over the last couple of days have been frozen and burst water pipes and broken central heating systems," said Simon Walton of Kilkenny County Council.

More than 100 homes were without water in Athlone over the weekend. Westmeath County Council set up stand-up pipes in parts of the town yesterday to provide water.

The capital hasn't escaped the water crisis either. Sinn Fein councillor Seamus McGrattan said between 30pc to 40pc of homes in the Cabra area have experienced problems with their supply.

May Foley from Phibsborough had her water supply restored through the help of a kind neighbour, as she and her husband were "too old" to reach the pipes in her attic.

"In the meantime you are worried that the pipes would burst . . . there could be more problems ahead when the thaw starts," she said.

The threat of frozen pipes has also led to many conserving large amounts of water. In Leitrim, stocks are at such critically low levels that many water schemes have had their sources temporarily cut off so that reservoirs don't dry up.

Fine Gael councillor Thomas Mulligan said that, while Leitrim County Council is pumping out more than a third more than its usual water supply into local tanks, "we're not able to keep our reservoir to a level to serve everyone".

Delivery

Heating oil companies around the country are finding it difficult to navigate delivery trucks through treacherous by-roads. A representative of Topaz, which supplies oil to more than 200,000 homes across Ireland, said that they have received a surge in orders.

Coal stocks are also dwindling. Bord na Mona has seen a 15-20pc rise in its sales in the past two weeks, with firelogs in particularly high demand.

"Thirty per cent of households are dependent on our fuels," a Bord na Mona spokesman said. "But because of the failure of central heating this has risen in the last couple of weeks."

Irish Independent

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