Water levels in the reservoirs on the Aran islands of Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr are reaching critically low levels with locals fearful that supply will run out by the August Bank Holiday weekend.
Restrictions have been place on the two islands for more than three weeks now as lack of rain water and diminishing reservoir levels have resulted in a potentially serious situation, according to Fianna Fáil county councillor Seán Ó Tuairisg. Highlighting the issue at Monday’s county council meeting the Indreabhán based councillor was particularly critical of his dealings with Irish Water after his enquiries received little or no reply.
Addressing the council executive he said: “In the past we would go to the county council water services and tanks would be brought out. I have been on to Irish Water and they said they would look into it. Are Irish Water responsible or is Galway County Council with getting to grips with this crisis? It’s a serious situation, people are coming to us and we can do damn all.”
Director of services for water and environment, Jim Cullen, acknowledged that the scarcity of water was indeed bad on these two islands and that he would take the matter up with Irish Water. “An intervention is needed and we will deliver if instructed to by Irish Water,” he said.
A statement received from Irish Water on Tuesday said that it was “closely monitoring the situation on the Aran Islands and was working closely with, and taking guidance from Galway County Council on finalising a back-up water supply for the islands”. It added: “Currently there are sufficient reserves to supply the islands and this is being monitored on a daily basis.”
However, Cllr Ó Tuairisg remains extremely concerned that there is only a week or two of supply left in the tanks even with restrictions, which had been reduced from 12 noon to 3pm at the height of the tourist season, but are now 10am to 6pm on Inis Meáin and 8pm to 8am on Inis Oírr. Speaking to the Galway Advertiser on Tuesday, Cllr Ó Tuairisg said: “Inis Meáin is unique in that it is a group scheme but there had been a statutory obligation on the council to ensure supply. Now with Irish Water it is up in the air. I spoke with the caretaker this morning and there are three tanks on Inis Meáin, one tank at a level of 26 per cent and the other two at six per cent each.” The supply caters for approximately 220 people on Inis Meáin and more than 300 on Inis Oírr, plus students during the summer, and many locals are fearful that the supply will not last.
Pipe to be replaced on Thomas Hynes Road as water disruption continues
Meanwhile, there are also serious water disruptions in the Newcastle area of the city due to burst pipes along Thomas Hynes Road. Irish Water and Galway City Council have been working to provide an alternative back-up water supply system to provide a temporary solution to the stop-go water supply that is in place. There are also plans being developed to replace the the pipeline along Thomas Hynes Road as there have been several disruptions, on at least six occasions, since the beginning of July.
The issue was brought up at Monday’s City Council meeting during which a motion calling for the council and Irish Water to immediately resolve the disruption caused to residents and businesses was passed. Apologising on behalf of Irish Water, director of services for finance, management services unit and water services, Edel McCormack, explained there had been an increase in the number of bursts, particularly in the past week, and there was “no obvious reason except for pipe fatigue”. She added that 30 metres of the pipe would be replaced.
In a letter to councillors a worker in the IDA Business Park said the disruptions have “seriously affected life and business in the area”. Vit Novacek who works at INSIGHT @ NUI Galway (formerly known as DERI ) said there had been “growing annoyance among many people, especially those who both live and work in the affected area”. He added: “The impact on the everyday life of people and also on the work productivity in the area has been quite significant - as you can imagine, it's rather hard to work at a place where you can't even flush a toilet and don't have anything to drink or eat as the cafeterias around have to close as well. And it gets even worse when you have the same situation at home and therefore can't really hide from it anywhere.” Mr Novacek warned the reputation of Galway city was already suffering with international visitors being inconvenienced, and that if the situation continues people living and working in the area may consider actions including a ‘water bucket protest march’ and organised bathroom breaks during working hours at City Hall.