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28 May 2022

Water is a fundamental basic for Longford businesses, says chamber of commerce chief

Irish Water

There has been a mixed reaction to news this week of Irish Water's €13.6m spend on the management of Co Longford's water supply network over the past two years

Details surrounding Irish Water's €13.6m spend on the management of Longford's water network has attracted a mixed reaction among local businesses.

Longford Chamber of Commerce President Fiona Fenelon said whatever about the costs involved, the need for a clean, efficient and safe water supply for local firms could not be understated.

“It's a fundamental basic for businesses especially in the hospitality sector,” she said.

“It's good to see investment but we certainly don't want to see a repeat of what happened last November.”

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Rose Flynn, proprietor of Longford town's Red Rose Cafe was one of several business owners to be forced into buying in bottled water after a four and a half week boil notice was introduced last November.

She said the large scale investment in water supplies locally appeared steep in light of recent disruptions to supplies.

“It's (€13.6m) a lot of money to be spent,” she said.

“€13m would have gone a long way towards putting new systems in place.”

Unease over the management of water locally comes after Irish Water bosses said its current arrangement of working alongside 31 local authorities “is no longer fit for purpose”.

In a submission to the joint Oireachtas committee on housing last September, Irish Water managing director Niall Gleeson said recent pollution issues show there is an “urgent need for change”.

“While equipment failure and human error can occur, late reporting of issues relating to the process failures at the plants left us unable to react and compromised water quality,” he says.

“The current service level agreement, where Irish Water works alongside 31 local authorities to deliver water services, is no longer fit for purpose.

Issues encountered at water treatment plants in Dublin and Wexford illustrated the “limitation of the present ways of working and emphasise the urgent need for change,” he added.

“It is critical that moving to the single public utility is progressed as a matter of urgency.”

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