Water shortages affect Longford businesses

Critically low levels of water in the county's reservoirs have resulted in the curtailment of water supply to thousands of homes and businesses throughout the county this week as the consequnces of the adverse weather conditions becomes evident.

Critically low levels of water in the county's reservoirs have resulted in the curtailment of water supply to thousands of homes and businesses throughout the county this week as the consequnces of the adverse weather conditions becomes evident.

Water levels have decreased significantly in reservoirs because of frozen and burst pipes, while undetected leaks throughout the whole county continue to cause havoc as a direct result of the weather.

Longford Co Council has been forced to turn off the water supply altogether from 10pm until 8am in Longford town and its environs and businesspeople and homeowners are currently finding the situation very difficult to cope with.

Speaking to the Leader, local publican Eddie Valentine said that his bar was without water for most of the Christmas period because of frozen pipes.

"The situation is out of control now at this stage," explained Mr Valentine who added that two ice machines and three glass washers at the premises had been damaged beyond repair because of "all these water issues".

"I really feel at this stage that the council has no consideration for the businesses in this town. I installed two ice machines and three glass washers just before Christmas and they are all destroyed because of burned out motors and the likes and all this is down to the water problem. I can't provide proper toilet facilities for customers either.

"The whole thing is a nightmare and now we have to deal with the new taskforce set up by the council to collect water rates. This is going on ten years and to be honest with you businesspeople need to be respected in this town. I'm going to look at getting my own water supply in the New Year."

Meanwhile, Paula Fitzpatrick, Manager at PVs said that there has been no water supply at the premises on Ballymahon Street since Christmas Eve and she indicated that the business had been "badly affected" by the water crisis.

"We had terrible difficulties with water shortages over Christmas," said Ms Fitzpatrick. "We had to limit our food menu and stick to a couple of dishes because of the situation. We can't provide proper toilet facilities to our customers and it has been a difficult time for everyone in this situation."

In a statement Longford County Council said that it deeply regretted the situation but that it had been left with no other option but to turn off the water supply because of critically low levels of water in reservoirs.

"Levels in the reservoirs were critically low last night (Tuesday)," a spokesperson said adding that the local authority was appealing to everyone to conserve water during the crisis.

"There are burst pipes and undetected leaks at the moment and there is no doubt that demand is currently exceeding supply. There may be undergrounds leaks and undetected leaks in vacant properties, so we are appealing to everyone to check for leaks and if they notice anything to call us."

The local authority went on to say that water supply would be curtailed further over the coming days in an effort to stabilise reservoir levels and said that repairs were continuing as leaks were detected.

"We can't guarantee that we will not have to turn day time supply off, but we are monitoring the situation closely and we will continue to turn the water supply off altogether at 10pm over the next few days."

Meanwhile, road works have begun in an effort to repair surface damage to roads throughout the county which were damaged by the bad weather. Local authority staff worked through the night last night in an effort to repair part of the N4 just outside Newtownforbes which had become badly damaged in recent days.

"Roads have been damaged by the weather," said a local authority spokesperson. "The freezing and thawing effect on road surfaces has caused damage and there are pot holes emerging as a result of that. We are currently trying to repair the damage to the N4 outside Newtownforbes and will assess other problems as they are reported to us."

Longford County Council has also indicated that it will continue to supply residents throughout the county with water at various stand pipe locations in Longford town, Newtownforbes, Drumlish, Ballymahon, Keenagh, Colmcille, Lanesboro and Granard.

For further details contact (043) 3343300 and to report water problems or road damage contact 1850 211525.

County Council worker Tom Gray helping Sean Connolly to get water at the Stand Pipe in Longford this week.

Photo: Michelle Ghee