A solution to the Old Mervue water crisis appears to be in sight with a proposal to come before city council that would see grant aid provided to householders affected by lead contamination.
Mervue based councillors Brian Walsh, Declan McDonnell, and Terry O’Flaherty, together with Green Cllr Niall Ó Brolcháin, have submitted a motion to the Galway City Council calling for the grant aid to allow householders connect to the new piping system.
The old lead piping system in Old Mervue has caused the contamination of the water and made it unfit for human consumption. A new cast iron distribution system to replace the contaminated lead pipes in Old Mervue is currently being installed. However the houses will have to be individually connected to this new system and it was suggested that this would have to be done at each homeowner’s expense.
According to Cllr Walsh, the Galway City Council is legally obliged to provide clean water to its citizens and the point of compliance is the kitchen tap “not at a stop cock out at the front or back of the house”.
Together with councillors McDonnell and O’Flaherty, he proposed that the Government allow the council to divert money from its €12 million water conservation fund to assist householders with the cost of the new connection.
Cllr McDonnell on numerous occasions wrote to the Environment Minister John Gormley seeking money to provide grant aid for residents. Arising out of this correspondence Cllr Ó Brolcháin was requested by the minister to arrange a meeting with councillors McDonnell and Walsh.
Cllr Ó Brolcháin has indicated to both councillors that the minister has no difficulty with the city council “ring fencing a portion of the second home levy” for grant aid purposes, provided it covers all effected areas and has the approval of the other city council members.
The councillors have now come up with a motion which will be put before the new council at its July meeting and Cllr Walsh hopes it will receive the full support of all councillors.
The motion proposes that monies due to the city council under the second home levy introduced by the Government in the 2008 Budget should be ring fenced to provide grant aid to the people of Old Mervue and the rest of the city to assist with the cost of reconnecting homes to a clean water supply.
“If I am on the Council after June 5, I will be supporting the motion and will be insisting that my FG colleagues do also,” he said. “The city council has already prepared and finalised its 2009 budget without the benefit of the second home windfall. We are advised that almost €2 million will accrue to the city as a result of this levy and the local government fund already allocated will not be affected.”