Irish Water have confirmed that a short term solution to reduce the number of water outages which are proving to be a constant affliction on residents and businesses in Athlone will take up to six months to implement.
The news was relayed to Minister of State, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran and Town Mayor, Cllr. Frankie Keena, at a specially convened meeting in Leinster House during which the annoyance, anger and frustration of residents and business sectors with regard to the frequency of water outages in Athlone and wider areas was strongly conveyed to Irish Water by both public representatives.
Also present at the meeting were Irish Water representatives Niall Gleeson Manager Director, Gerry Galvin, Chief Technical Officer, John O’Donoghue, Regional Operations Manager and Annabel Fitzgerald, Regional Communications Lead.
“Together with Minister Moran, I detailed the concerns of our constituents regarding the ongoing water outages in our town, emphasising the impact on residents and businesses, highlighting our concerns pertaining to the loss of potential investment in Athlone due to the challenges we continue to face in this regard,” Cllr. Keena remarked.
The Town Mayor stressed to the Irish Water representatives that such water outages were “not acceptable”, noting that the proposal to install a major treatment plant and pumping station at Portaneena was not viable due to its status as an amenity site with invaluable environmental value.
In response, Irish Water stated that they were now focused upon the upgrade of the existing treatment plant at Marine View with the aim of eliminating the continuous water outages.
While acknowledging the inconvenience to local residents and businesses resulting from the water supply outages, Irish Water outlined a number of explanations for the outages, noting that the water treatment plant is currently operating at maximum capacity, while the demand for drinking water is consistently higher than the production capability of the plant which results in the levels of the Annagh reservoir dropping gradually each day. Once a certain level is reached, it is restrictions on the supply are imposed to allow storage to build up.
Additionally, maintenance activities at the water treatment plant necessitate the shutting down of the facility for a time as mechanical or electrical failures also have a detrimental impact, while a major leak on the distribution network means there is an increased likelihood of restrictions to maintain levels of the Annagh reservoir.
“Pressing the need for an immediate short term solution to the water outage issue, Irish Water’s noted their plans to increase supply for Athlone.
“The national water utility will implement plans to upgrade the water treatment plant at Marine View, subject to the normal statutory processes, and will issue updates as the project progresses. This upgrade will ensure that the plant will have the capacity to treat and supply the current and future water demands of Athlone.
“Irish Water is exploring a range of short term solutions to increase the water production capacity at the plant including the installation of a temporary water treatment plant. It should be noted that this is one of a range of solutions being considered, with an update on this measure due to be provided by year end,” Cllr. Keena commented.
The Town Mayor reiterated that Irish Water will meet directly with a number of large corporate businesses in Athlone who are impacted by restrictions to discuss mitigation measures and will also meet with elected members from the District plus Athlone Chamber of Commerce representatives in the near future.
“The public are urged conserve water as much as possible and to report any leaks that they may see,” Cllr. Keena concluded.