Major disruption to water supplies

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Homes and businesses in Inishowen were without water for ten hours on Friday, while a leaking pipe along the Slab Road was repaired.

This was the second time in four weeks the domestic and commercial water supply was disrupted in Newtowncunningham, Burt, Bridgend, Burnfoot and Fahan.

Teresa McGee, who manages Trinity Court sheltered housing complex in Newtown, said having no water meant her elderly residents were also left without heat.

She said: “If the water in Trinity Court goes off without notice, as it has twice in the past month, the pressure in our heating system drops, which means the boilers cut out.

“This is a safety feature in the heating system but on Friday it meant we had 70- and 80-year-olds sitting here in the cold. I would not want this happening further into the winter, when the weather might be considerably colder.

“Luckily Friday was not one of our day-centre days. When the water went off at the beginning of September it was one of our day-centre days, which meant we had extra people in Trinity Court expecting a hot meal and some entertainment.”

Newtown councillor Paul Canning (FF) said he received a number of complaints from irate constituents on Friday.

“Donegal County Council has confirmed to me there have now been 11 bursts along the Slab Road pipeline. The council urgently needs to carry out an inspection of the trunk water-main along the Slab Road to ascertain why there are so many bursts and to carry out remedial action to prevent them.

“I do not believe the businesses in this area are currently getting the water service they deserve or are paying for from Donegal County Council. Do not forget, as well as hundreds of homes, there are filling stations, convenience stores, hairdressers, restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfasts, retail shops, schools and nursing homes.

It’s understood the recurring water leaks are being caused by corrosion. The galvanised bolts used on the original pipeline are being destroyed by the saline soil in the Slab Road area.

Cllr Jack Murray (SF) said people in Inishowen believed new charges, such as the proposed water tax, will not improve their service.

He said: “People are very angry at the repeated bursts in the Slab Road water-main. They are right to be angry. This is a legacy problem of an antiquated water system, which is well beyond its sell-by-date.

“Donegal County Council requires a huge amount of investment in order to bring our water infrastructure up to standard. Rather than spending a billion euro installing water meters, the government should be spending this money on improving Inishowen’s water infrastructure. People are entitled to a proper water service. That is one of the most basic services a council provides.”

In spite of numerous requests before going to press yesterday, the Journal was unable to obtain any comment from Donegal County Council.