Government funding of €250,000 to upgrade the existing Achill Island water treatment plant has been described as 'chicken feed' by an Achill-based councillor.
Speaking at the Westport-Belmullet Municipal District December meeting this week, Fianna Fáil Cllr Paul McNamara was vocal in his call for a new plant to be built, saying that the €250,000 would not go near fixing the problems that exist with the current plant.
He told the meeting that: "The reality of it is, it is chicken feed. This is not going to solve the problem in Achill because the reality of the situation is the plant is totally outdated.
"I tell you €250,000 will not solve the problem. What we need is a new plant and nothing else. If the plant fails we have no back-up plan. The money could be spent over the Easter holidays if that plant breaks down like it did in August, from hauling water from Castlebar and Westport to fill the reservoirs in Achill."
This summer saw a major water emergency happen on the island in August when the existing plant was unable to cope with the demand for water, which resulted in a high level of aluminium in the water, making it unfit for human consumption. To deal with the issue, water tankers were installed around the island for people to use and Cllr McNamara said that he feared that, if holidaying at home remained as popular next year as it was this year, a similar situation would arise again.
Cllr McNamara went on to say that he didn't blame Mayo County Council or Irish Water for the issue 'as their hands are tied on the issue because a new Achill treatment planet is not included on the current capital investment programme for the government'.
He called on Minister Darragh O'Brien to rectify this and make it a matter of urgency.
"He just needs to pick up the pen and get it done under some emergency funding. I am calling on the minister to issue funding for a new plant for Achill and not to be issuing €250,000 in chickenfeed thinking it will solve the problem, because it won’t."
There was full backing for Cllr McNamara's calls from the other members of the Municipal District, with Cllr Brendan Mulroy asking that the council write to the Minister to try and arrange a meeting with him to seek the urgent upgrade that is needed.