Wexford County Council (WCC) twice requested a backup generator for the water treatment plant at Creagh after recent storms and was told by Irish Water one wasn’t available.
A generator, which cost approximately €40-50,000, could have prevented the recent contamination of water supplies.
“Post Storm Ophelia and Storm Emma we did ask for generators,” said Senior Engineer Fionnuala Callery at last week’s Gorey-Kilmuckridge Municipal District meeting. “Some sites in the county have them, others don’t. Unfortunately, Creagh doesn’t have one. This incident highlights that a generator would have made a big difference and it wouldn’t be expensive in the grand scheme of things. We did get two mobile generators which are available to us if we are aware of a planned outage.”
Councillor Willie Kavanagh said he has long been an advocate of having generators at all water treatment plants in the county and had previously campaigned to have them commissioned.
“I raised the issue four years ago at an Enniscorthy district meeting about having generators as back-up and I was informed by Irish Water that it wasn’t cost-effective and it wouldn’t pay them to have generators at each pumping station,” he said. “The cost shouldn’t come into it. I spoke to people after that meeting and was told these generators could be supplied for about €40-50,000 – that’s a small amount to pay to stop people getting sick.”
A new generator for the Creagh plant was just one of the items on councillors’ shopping lists in the wake of the water failure.
Cllr Andrew Bolger outlined exactly what was required to ensure a similar issue did not happen again. “We need funding for a back-up generator, a stopping system to shut off the water, investment in relation to pressure, and upgrade of underground pipes,” he said. “What chance do we have of getting this funding? I don’t want to go out and tell the people of Gorey we’re looking for funding for a back-up generator, investment in pressure, and then we end up getting nothing.”
“A lot will depend on what the recommendations are as a result of the investigation,” replied Chief Executive Tom Enright. “We will be asking that all those recommendations be implemented, and we will be insisting that whatever recommendations in terms of resources that are needed will be followed through after the investigation. There shouldn’t be an issue with resources, there should be funding to carry out work as soon as possible.”
With all councillors united in the view that this was an opportunity to push for further investment in Gorey’s water system, Cllr Donal Kenny said that as “the fastest growing town in Leinster” it was imperative the system was upgraded post haste.
“The pipes are not good enough to take the pressure off these big pumps, we need to get the pipes renewed with and get them up to date. I can see more trouble down the line as Gorey gets bigger.”