Outrage as locals face fourth week without water

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Arthur Jean and Kayla Commiskey who were without running water for six days are pictured with Cpl Andrew Flynn who was on hand to help residents without water in the town. Photo: Thomas Gibbons

Arthur Jean and Kayla Commiskey who were without running water for six days are pictured with Cpl Andrew Flynn who was on hand to help residents without water in the town. Photo: Thomas Gibbons

Residents in some of Mullingar’s housing estates are facing into their fourth week without running water as it emerged that several homes have had no water supply since Christmas.

The water crisis in the Mullingar area shows no sign of abating this week, with thousands of residents now relying on standpipes and tankers to keep their homes supplied with water.

And there are fears that there will be new shortages once the thaw sets in, as the extent of water leakages from burst pipes is revealed.

Westmeath County Council continues to switch water supplies off in the majority of the town’s homes overnight between 8pm and 7am, in a bid to allow reservoirs to replenish their water supplies and prepare for further leakages. A burst water main in Kilbeggan is also currently under repair.

However, Mullingar residents have expressed anger at the handling of the water shortages by the council and their lack of communication with residents.

“I rang the council last week and was told that for anyone experiencing problems it was tough, we would have to wait for the thaw or get a plumber in ourselves. The pipes have been laid too close to the ground surface,” said one Ardilaun resident.

“The council also said that they are only responsible for leaks at the stopcock, but I guarantee the majority of leaks will be in gardens. Everyone will be paying for their own plumbers.

“My mother lives in Greenpark Meadows, and her supply has been out for eight days. Someone from the council came out to her to check the supply for airlocks, but we have had no communication from the council. They should have knocked on all our doors to explain what’s going on. No notices came in the door. I don’t understand why the council didn’t just decrease pressure to all homes,” she added.

Westmeath County Council’s senior water services engineer, Greg Duggan, said that while reservoir levels are slowly increasing, the overnight outages are still necessary to prepare for the ‘big thaw’.

“Reservoir levels are creeping up. We are trying to get reservoir levels up, so that when the big thaw comes and bursts appear, the system doesn’t crash.

“All water supplies in Mullingar and its environs continue to be turned off overnight when there is low demand. Some people in estates have water and some have not, and some are lucky that they can run a pipe from the outdoor tap at a neighbour’s house,” said Mr Duggan.

While it emerged last week that consumption of water during the cold spell had increased greatly due to householders leaving taps running for fear of their pipes freezing, Mr Duggan praised locals for their cooperation in recent days.

“People have been quite responsive. I think they realise that water is coming back the next day and they will have water for the morning.

“I think the message has got out not to leave taps running. One tap left running in one house for a day can use the water of 10 houses. We don’t advise it.”

A list of the areas where standpipes are available is updated daily on www.westmeathcoco.ie Westmeath County Council, assisted by the Civil Defence, also continues to providing a mobile water tanker service in Mullingar’s residential estates and the surrounding areas. There are nine mobile tankers in operation and there is also a tanker available in Castleview Estate, Delvin.

Members of the public are asked to report any leaks or burst water mains immediately. Regular updates are posted online at www.westmeathcoco.ie Phones are manned from 9am to 5pm each day and emergency numbers are available after hours by phoning (044 ) 9332000.

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