The elected members of Mayo County Council were told that water supply levels were very low around the county following the recent weather. Director of services for water services Paddy Mahon told the annual budget meeting: “Normally we use 59,000 cubic metres of water a day in the county, but yesterday (Sunday, January 10 ) we used 69,000 cubic metres of water in the county, that’s 16 per cent more than normal and this week we expect it to get worse. The situation in the Castlebar reservoir is critical today (Monday ) and rationing will have to be considered over the week”.
While the cold snap brought its own problems the current thaw that has descended upon the county has also brought some more with it as the director explained. “The thaw will reveal a lot of burst pipes over the coming days and weeks and we will have to deal with them as quickly as we can to stop huge amounts of water being lost.”
Council may be forced into doing Shrah water scheme
Following a question by Fine Gael Councillor Austin Francis O’Malley in relation to the sanctioning of a loan by the council for the Shrah water scheme last year and the possibility of the scheme happening this year, the council was told that the cost of the scheme would be very large on the council and finding the internal funding could be difficult. Director of finance for the council Peter Duggan told the meeting: “We made the decision to have the approval for a loan of €8.89 million for the Shrah scheme, but to pay back that loan we would have to pay €800,000 per year. There are two ways of doing that one is increasing water charges and the second would be from development levies. In 2007 we took in €9 million in levies, whereas this year we expect to take in €1 million. It would represent a 13 per cent increase in water charges per year to pay back that loan.”
Director of services Paddy Mahon also told the meeting: “The decision on this scheme will be the single biggest decision this council will make this year”. Acting county manager Joe Beirne told the members that they could be forced into doing the scheme this year if the Department of Environment say so. “We may be forced into this, we have to keep up with EPA guidelines and the department, we have applied for a curtailed scheme, but the department said no, so they could take it out of our hands and force us to do it,” he warned.
Conservation urged as water turned off in areas
Mayo County Council has been urging people to conserve water as it tries to address the problems caused by the freezing conditions of the past few weeks. The water was turned off at night around Castlebar in the Springfield, Windsor, Ballintubber, Ballyheane, Aghadrinagh, Tourmakeady, and Cloondeash areas during the week and will continue today (Friday ). There will also be reduced pressure in Carrowholly, Aughagower, and Castlebar town.
The council has also stated that the demand for water in the Belmullet and Erris region is very high and users should refrain from leaving their taps on. The council has asked residents in Achill, Tonragee, and Curraun to minimise their water use as the supply is under severe pressure. The council also asked that farmers check their animal troughs for leaks after the cold snap. Mayo County Council has been posting information on its website and you can also follow the updates on the council’s Twitter page, where staff have been posting up to date information as it happens.