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Irish Water to focus on Gort supply issues

Irish Water chiefs have committed to a renewed focus on Gort as recurring problems continue to blight the town’s water services.

Following a meeting with local representatives, Deputy Ciarán Cannon (FG) and Cllr Joe Byrne (FG), the public water body has sought to reassure residents that works have, and will continue to be carried out to avoid future supply interruptions and bad smells caused by wastewater leaks.

Deputy Cannon said while a new treated-water storage reservoir was completed in 2022, Gort’s water supply was once again brought to its knees in the run up to Christmas as sub-zero conditions caused the system to malfunction.

In a letter to Deputy Cannon and Cllr Byrne, Irish Water (or Uisce Éireann as it has been rebranded) states that a “heat tracing system” has been installed to protect pipework and instrumentation from freezing conditions.

115 metres of water mains are to be replaced on Crowe Street this year and ground water investigations are ongoing to seek out additional supply.

“While this work is ongoing,” said Deputy Cannon, “we have been assured that work is already underway at the Gort Water Treatment Plant to ensure the plant can meet all drinking water quality standards consistently, and further reduce the risk of water supply interruptions.”

Deputy Cannon said in their meeting with Irish Water Engineers and their Chief Operations Officer, he and Cllr Byrne highlighted the serious issues that have arisen over the past year.

“We made it very clear that these failures in service were not acceptable and that we as public representatives for this town needed to be able to reassure people that their concerns were being taken seriously.

“The reply we have received indicates that our concerns have been taken on board, to a certain extent, but we intend to keep a close eye on developments over the coming months,” said Deputy Cannon.

This issue of recurring sewer odours in the town, particularly at Church Street, was one of the main issues addressed in the meeting, said Deputy Cannon, and Irish Water confirmed that remedial works to repair four breaks in the sewer had been carried out adjacent to Church Street, while CCTV surveying of the wastewater pipe network continued.

A full rehabilitation of 130 metres of sewer piping at George’s Street is also set to take place.

Cllr Byrne said this was their first opportunity to meet with senior management of Irish Water to address these issues.

“We made it quite clear that the kind of failures experienced recently in Gort would not be tolerated in the future. The work ongoing right now in terms of both water and wastewater infrastructure should lead to improvements.

“In the long term, if the town’s wastewater treatment system is to perform satisfactorily, we need to see better venting of odours, and better management of stormwater. We will continue to make the case for these improvements,” said Cllr Byrne.

Poor communications with public representatives and local residents when issues arose was a constant problem, added Deputy Cannon.

“We need to be notified of why issues have arisen, what is being done to resolve them and what is being done to ensure that they do not happen again.

“Joe and I will be insisting on open and effective lines of communication with Irish Water engineers and we will be reverting to Irish Water with a request that these communication protocols are put in place immediately,” said the Fine Gael TD.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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