UPGRADE NEEDED The Corrymore Water Treatment Facility on Achill Island. Pic: Conor McKeown
EMERGENCY funding is needed to upgrade the Achill water treatment plant, in order to prevent a repeat of what happened in August, according to a local councillor.
The people of Achill were left without drinking water from their taps for four weeks in August after a ‘Do not consume’ notice was issued by Irish Water after exceedances of aluminum was found in the water supply.
The notice was issued on August 7 and was not lifted until September 4 leaving the entire parish without tap water during the height of the tourism season. The exceedances were as a result of the plant not being able to cater for the high demand for water during the summer along with a rise in water temperature.
Following an audit of the water treatment plant at Corrymore by the EPA on September 3, the agency expressed concerns the plant will not have the resilience to deal with seasonal increases. The EPA recommended that Irish Water ‘should take action to improve the resilience of the Achill public water supply, by ensuring the water treatment plant has sufficient capacity to meet seasonal increases in water demand’.
At last week’s monthly meeting of the Westport/Belmullet Municipal District, Cllr Paul McNamara acknowledged the work of the council staff on the ground to resolve the problem during the summer but stressed that another repeat cannot happen.
Owed an explanation
“The people of Achill are owed an explanation and more-so some confidence has to be instilled in the water system and a reassurance that it will be dealt with. The last upgrade was in 1985 but it has been giving trouble not just since August but for a number of years and every year there is a large number of bursts on it. If we have an influx of visitors for Christmas is the same problem going to arise.
“People expect the services to be there. They are paying for electricity and bins so the other basic services should be provided. If the customers have to go back on a non consume or boil notice that will have an effect on businesses and people and tourists coming into Achill. Whatever department provides the money, emergency funding is needed so we don’t have the same problem again,” he said.
During the crisis, Irish Water provided provided alternative water supplies to the Achill public while the notice was in place and Mayo Civil Defence provided bottles of drinking water to vulnerable people.
Cllr Gerry Coyle said what happened in Achill with the water should not have happened and proposed a motion calling on Irish Water to deal with the matter immediately.
Head of the Municipal District, Padraic Walsh said he did not know what the prospects of a major upgrade would be but will write to Irish Water seeking an answer and will give a report at the next municipal district meeting.