29 May 2022

Irish Water's €14m Longford bill branded 'a staggering amount of money’

Longford’s economic recovery is being impeded by Irish Water’s management of the county’s day to day water infrastructure, it has been claimed.

Longford / Westmeath Fianna Fáil TD Joe Flaherty cited how “huge challenges” affecting key areas such as housing and inward investment have come amid growing concerns over the state of Longford’s water network.

Deputy Flaherty said the knock on effects over those misgivings was especially evident in both the south of the county and the broader Longford town area.

“There are huge challenges ahead in relation to the future growth of the county particularly when it comes to housing and this is being hampered by Irish Water especially in the mid Longford and Ballymahon electoral areas,” he said.

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The Lanesboro native was speaking in the wake of a Longford Leader investigation this week which revealed how over €13.5m of taxpayers’ money has been spent over the past two years fixing leaks and carrying out upgrades at various water treatment plants across the county.

The biggest of those outlays came at the Lough Forbes Water Treatment Plant which, towards the latter end of last year, was at the centre of a four and a half week boil water notice.

Deputy Flaherty, speaking at the time, stressed the need for Longford’s general public to be provided with a “safe and secure water supply” in the midst of the country’s ongoing battle to contain the spread of Covid-19.

He said the figures obtained by the Leader were alarming given the broader level of ill-feeling that continued to exist among homeowners and local businesses.

“It’s a staggering amount of money,” he said.

“We are all well aware of the issues with Irish Water in terms of the capital structure of the county, but there is also a huge level of dissatisfaction out there with Irish Water in how it deals with complaints not only in relation to water, but also in relation to sewage.”

Longford Fine Gael Senator Micheal Carrigy said while commitment towards seeing funding being allocated towards upgrade work was heartening, greater emphasis was required in addressing problems linked to wastewater.

“These are issues that need to be tackled particularly in the Longford town area where there are ongoing concerns in a number of estates,” he said.

Senator Carrigy said while much annoyance was still being felt by last November's boil water notice, the situation was made worse when news of the interruption was made known.

“I think a lot of people realised that the notice was put in to ultimately bring about a better water supply and drinking water supply,” he said.

“People need to be told the facts. not some of the false promises that were put out there.”

Longford County Council Cathaoirleach Cllr Peggy Nolan said questions remained surrounding the seven figure investment of public monies in maintaining the county’s water supply network.

On that basis, the Fine Gael local politician said the council would be seeking fresh talks with Irish Water chiefs to address those concerns over the coming weeks.

“In light of the information it’s an interesting figure,” she said in response to the €13.6m overall spend by Irish Water over the 2020-21 period in Longford.

“Obviously they are spending money investing in the upgrade of the system and I have requested them to attend a meeting of the council so we can get a total breakdown of their spend because we all know the breakdown we encountered at the end of last year was totally unacceptable.

“I look forward to affording myself and my colleagues the chance to ask Irish Water about their plans into the future and how that will impact on consumers in the county of Longford.”

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