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Achill water-plant funding branded ‘chicken feed’


Local councillor demands new plant ‘and nothing else’

Anton McNulty

GOVERNMENT funding of €250,000 for upgrading the Achill Island Water Treatment Plant has been described as ‘chicken feed’.
Last month, Minister for Housing and Local Government, Darragh O’Brien allocated the sum after the plant was forced to close last summer when its infrastructure could not cope with demand generated by tourists to the area.
Speaking at yesterday’s monthly meeting of the Westport/Belmullet Municipal District, Achill-based councillor Paul McNamara said that a total upgrade of the plant was needed and that the funds on the table were insufficient.
“The reality of it is it is chicken feed … This is not going to solve the problem in Achill because the reality of the situation is the plant is totally outdated. I will tell you €250,000 will not solve the problem. What we need is a new plant and nothing else.
“If the plant fails we have no back up plan. I will tell you that the €150,000 could be spent over the Easter holidays if that plant breaks down like it did in August, from hauling water from Castlebar and Westport to fill the reservoirs in Achill,” he said.

‘Pick up the pen’
Cllr McNamara said he accepted that both Irish Water and Mayo County Council had their hands tied because the project was not included in the current capital investment programme. However, he believes this could be changed by the minister.
“For me the only person who can solve the problem is the Minister Darragh O’Brien. He just needs to pick up the pen and get it done under some emergency funding. I am calling on the minister to issue funding for a new plant for Achill and not to be issuing €250,000 in chickenfeed thinking it will solve the problem because it won’t.”
The people of Achill were left without a public water supply for most of August because the plant was unable to cope with the demand for water. As a result an exceedance of aluminium was found in the water and was deemed unfit to consume. Tankers of water were placed around the island for people to drink while reservoirs were kept topped up so people could use water for hygiene purposes.
Cllr McNamara’s comments were supported by the other councillors in the municipal district, who said that Achill should never again have to experience a similar water outage. Cllr Brendan Mulroy proposed that the council writes to the Department of Housing and Local Government seeking a deputation to meet the Minister to appeal for funding for an upgrade.