Monday 21 October 2019

Chronic delays in water repair works are slammed

David Looby

A Wexford woman in her 80s was told she had to leave her home because urgent works were not carried out by Irish Water contracted workers.

She was one of numerous people who have been adversely affected by the national water utility, which Cllr George Lawlor highlighted during the monthly meeting of Wexford County Council.

He said councils across the country are signed into a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with Irish Water until 2026 and yet the service provided to householders is patchy at best. According to the SLA Wexford County Council workers should be tasked by Irish Water to carry out repairs to leaks as they occur. 'Whilst council workers are called to a lot of leaks it appears that Irish Water are contracting private companies to carry out a lot of the work and this is leading to often chronic delays in fixing some major leaks. The fixing of the Wolfe Tone leak was carried out by 'Coffey Group' of Athenry more than two years after it was first carried out. Our local council crew could have easily dealt with this much sooner.'

Cllr Lawlor asked CEO Tom Enright to take this situation to the County Managers Association in an effort to get Irish Water to change their ways and ensure that council water crews would be tasked first to tackle these leaks. He highlighted instances involving Irish Water that had been brought to his attention, including on Distillery Road where they replaced a leaking water main. 'However they have left the old main still running leaking thousands of litres and a resident of the street contacted me last week saying they had an "unwanted and unexplained water feature in their back garden".

In Kennedy Park they informed a lady in her eighties that she would have to leave her house for two weeks while they dealt with a leak. 'The lady was quite distressed at having to leave her house for such a length of time. Eventually a qualified person dealt with the leak in a couple of hours. In Devereux Villas they didn't pass on details of a reported leak to the local council crew and thousands of euros of damage was done to the resident's house by the time the crew were informed. In William Street a leak in an unoccupied house was so bad and going on for so long that a neighbouring property owner had to put in extra gullies to take the water away.'

Little or no meter reading for non domestic customers is taking place, Cllr Lawlor added. 'This has led to the situations like the CBS NS where the principal contacted me directly to assist in dealing with an "estimated bill" for €33,000 that was issued. Another lady in South Wexford was billed for over 400,000 gallons of water more than she used.'

Director of Services Eamonn Hore assured Cllr Lawlor that the hiring of meter readers was imminent and this would assist in proper billing of thousands of non domestic customers.

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