Eight months after it was declared unsafe, the public water supply in Loughrea has been given the all-clear.
While the 8,500 customers in Loughrea and hinterland will be breathing a sigh of relief, there is no good news for the residents of Carraroe and Kilconnell which still remain on a boil water notice.
Irish Water said it had invested over €300,000 at the two treatment plants in Loughrea to ensure a safe and reliable supply of drinking water in the town and hinterland.
The boil water notice was issued on February 2 after the potentially dangerous bug cryptosporidium was discovered in tests. The estimated period of time to solve the problem was initially put at two months. Irish Water executive Ger Greally said the Loughrea water treatment plants now provide a robust barrier to microbiological and other contaminants.
“Irish Water is delighted that this boil water notice has been lifted within a relatively short timeframe considering the scope of works involved,” he stated.
“Both Loughrea water treatment plants will now provide year-round protection against the range of contaminants found in the raw water. New UV systems were installed at the two plants along with significant filter optimisation works, extensive flushing of the mains and cleaning of all four reservoirs associated with this scheme.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said its auditors were satisfied with the upgrade works carried out to improve the safety and security of Loughrea public water scheme.
The agency stated that filter management at both Loughrea plants had been significantly improved and added that the new UV disinfection systems meet the criterial for UV disinfection under the EPA Drinking Water Advice.
“Secondary disinfection by chlorination provides residual disinfection in the distribution network. All reservoirs have been cleaned and intensive network flushing has been carried out,” the report stated.
A boil notice was put in place in Kilconnell in November 2015 and in Carraroe last March.
“Irish Water is investigating a number of options to find a short term solution for the Kilconnell water supply. Once a resolution is agreed Irish Water will issue a detailed update,” according to a spokesperson.
“In relation to Carraroe, the works at the treatment plant are complete and a period of process proving is underway. We expect to issue an update in the next couple of weeks.” That work has cost in the region of €1m.
At its height in the last year there were 11,213 Galway residents on full or partial boil water notices or experiencing a water restriction due to contamination in the public water supply – it hit Ballinasloe in December 2015, Loughrea and Lettermore were both announced the following February, while Carraroe’s supply was declared off limits in March and Ahascragh was next to make the list in April.
Williamstown had a boil water notice in place since October 2014 which was only lifted last May. Irish Water is currently putting in place a long term solution to the issues in Williamstown consisting of an extension of the Lough Mask pipe line from Ballyhaunis. This is programmed for completion at the end of 2017.
A boil water notice imposed on the Leenane Public Water Supply in July 2015 was lifted last month after an investment of almost €1 million at the local treatment plant which supplies over 200 customers.
Customers on the Loughrea Regional Water Supply – including the Craughwell area and the following group water schemes – Earlspark, Masonbrook, Newtowndaly, Loughrea Rural, Killeenadeema, Carrowmore/Clostoken & Caherlaven, Caherdine, Carrigean – can now resume the normal use of tap water for drinking, food preparation, making ice and brushing teeth.
Community fights back on hospital ‘downgrade by stealth’
Raw emotion, sadness and some anger filled the air at Clifden Town Hall on Sky Road last Sunday afternoon as a shaken community gave honest, personal accounts of the impact the closure by stealth of Clifden District Hospital would have on the people of North Connemara.
The public meeting was hastily organised after fears emerged on Friday that the HSE may transfer respite services from Clifden to Merlin Park Hospital, 50-plus miles away in Galway City.
Families were told their loved ones in Clifden Hospital may have to move home, or go to Merlin Park the following Monday, due to ‘issues with staffing’.
An axe has hung over Clifden Hospital for some years, but this latest move stirred the community to fight back to retain services locally.
Galway County Councillor Eileen Mannion (FG), who organised the public meeting with Senator Sean Kyne, said 625 people signed the attendance sheets and an estimated 650 people attended.
“The community effort spreading the word was unbelievable; the turnout was unbelievable,” she said.
“It wasn’t just anger; it was raw emotion in the room. Sadness. Family members spoke about the calls they got on Friday. The feeling that their elderly person was being rejected; that they weren’t being respected.
“One man stood up, three years waiting for respite care for a family member, and then to be told after a few days in there that she’d have to be taken home or to Merlin Park.
“We’re 50 miles from Galway. If there’s no traffic you might get to the outskirts in an hour but with the traffic in Galway, you could be another hour to get to Merlin Park. Not everyone has transport either and they’ve to rely on buses.
“A young woman stood up at the meeting and said her dad was dying in Galway. And she had to go to Saint Vincent de Paul to get money to pay for a B&B so that the family would be close to him when the end came. People gave their personal stories, and it was just heart-breaking.”
(Photo by Carmel Lyden: Teresa Conneely from Roundstone addresses people at the public meeting in Clifden Town Hall).
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the Clifden Hospital story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Pilgrim took to his feet to realise dream!
Clifden man Breandan O Scanaill, who is on a pilgrimage from his home town of Clifden to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, received a Mayoral welcome and a memorial crest when he arrived at the Asturian town of Navia last week.
Breandan, whose walk from his home outside Clifden to the reputed burial place of St James in Santiago, began in April, was walking through Navia in Spain when a local man came over to chat to him.
“He asked me about my journey and was interested in the fact that an Irish man had turned up in the town,” says Breandan, who had been admiring the Chapel of San Roque at the time.
The local man outlined the history of the building and the town to Breandan and they began chatting more generally about history and architecture – topics dear to the pilgrim’s heart.
Breandán’s new friend introduced himself as the Mayor of Navia, lgnacio Garcia Palacios, who invited the visitor from Clifden to visit the Town Hall.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Local Property Tax rate to stay unchanged despite Council chief’s plea
Councillors have agreed to keep the Local Property Tax (LPT) rate unchanged – despite pleas from management that Galway County Council is predicted to spend at least €22 million more than it brings in for the next two years.
County Chief Executive Jim Cullen had recommended an increase of 15% on the LPT rate for 2023 and 2024 – amounting to €2.1m extra in the coffers annually – which would bolster its case when it came to pleading for a greater share of funding from central government.
In an estimation of income and expenditure for the Council, taking into account “unavoidable” expenditure and income changes set to hit, the Council would run a deficit of €9.04m in 2023 and 13.2m in 2024 – well over €22m unless there was a change in finances.
“I am hopeful of an uplift in baseline [funding] levels . . . we cannot continue to ignore the fact that other councils have raised LPT and their citizens enjoy a better standard of services that in Galway,” he stressed.
He told a meeting this week that €9m would be needed to maintain services next year at the same level as 2022. This was due to significant cost increases given that inflation is reaching 9.6% currently. Pensions, gratuities and payroll increases from the national pay agreement, increments and additional staff were all adding to bigger outgoings.
Without that extra funding, it will be necessary to reduce spending by that amount with a negative impact on service and staffing levels, he said.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the story, including the councillors’ discussions, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.