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Cork schemes mothballed as Irish Water funds dry up

'The bottom line here is that the funding model for Irish Water is no longer valid' - Cllr O'Shea

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Piping from the proposed water mains replacement scheme left by the side of the road after the project twas shelved

Piping from the proposed water mains replacement scheme left by the side of the road after the project twas shelved

Piping from the proposed water mains replacement scheme left by the side of the road after the project twas shelved

"There is little point in discussing the projected housing needs for Cork County over the next five-years if Cork County Council can not even rely on Irish Water to provide the necessary infrastructure to facilitate further growth."

That was the view of Cllr John Paul O'Shea (FG) who was among a number of county councillors to criticise the company for its failure to progress vital water and sewage schemes due to lack of funding.

The issue was raised in County Hall this week during a debate on the Cork County Development Plan, with a number of councillors calling for the control of water and sewage projects to be handed back to local authorities.

Councillors unanimously backed a call by the authority's northern division to write to both the Taoiseach and Minister for housing requesting information on how Irish Water will be funded in the future in light of the number of projects across the county that been mothballed. 

Councillors then proceeded to list numerous schemes across the county that have been delayed or sidelined, several of which are in the North Cork area. These include the replacement of 4km of water-mains at Clonroibin, Kilbrin, which Cllr O'Shea said had gone through the statutory preparation procedures only to be "pulled at the last minute".   

He pointed out that the basis of the Irish Water model was that the utility would derive a certain level of its annual funding from domestic water charges. He said this would have allowed for the company to borrow the capital needed to fund the projects and programmes outlined in its own plans. 

"To be frank Irish Water has been crippled since domestic water charges are no longer in place and we now see the impact of this through the number of projects across Cork that have been cancelled or delayed," he said. 

"The bottom line here is that the funding model for Irish Water is no longer valid and Government needs to decide how to fund the organisation into the future," said Cllr O'Shea. 

His brother and party colleague, Cllr Tony O'Shea, listed a number of other North Cork projects that have been impacted, including the upgrading of the sewage scheme in Mitchelstown and the construction of a new water storage tower in Kildorrery. 

Others he listed included the upgrade to the Mallow waste water treatment plant, which was supposed to have commenced this year but has now been delayed until 2021, with Cllr O'Shea saying there was "no certainty" it would even go ahead next year. 

A further example cited was the planned replacement of water-mains on the Glantane scheme, which has now been mothballed after the contractor appointed to the project was notified it was no longer going ahead. 

Cllr O'Shea said that an agreement to replace water-mains from the reservoir in Laharn to a nearby pump-house had also been shelved.

"This was approx 1km in length and this work is all through agricultural fields, so costs would be minimal. The new pipes were bought, delivered to the side of the road and since then have laid there waiting for installation. This is nothing short of disgraceful," said Cllr O'Shea. 

"We urgently need the funding model for Irish Water to be addressed by Government as not only will day-to-day water services suffer, but the development of our towns and villages will also suffer if we cannot provide a good water and waste water service to these towns and villages."

Corkman