Council react to water crisis

LAOIS County Council was losing almost two-thirds of its water supply last week, as leaks plagued the county.

LAOIS County Council was losing almost two-thirds of its water supply last week, as leaks plagued the county.

Late last week, the council were supplying 1.1 million litres of water. Normally the council would need less than half a million litres to satisfy the county's water needs.

The council have also ordered garages not to use car washes, while they struggle to get thousands of leaks under control from Graigucullen to Portarlington.

"We have had people crying on the phone because they have no water, so we're not urging garages not to use them, we're directing them not to," Mary O'Donoghue, administrative officer with the water services department said. "Some garages claim that they have a private water supply and we will be investigating this."

Ms O'Donoghue continued: "The demand for water trebled last week due to leaks and bursts, and the demand still outstrips the supply in many areas."

She said she was afraid to count the cost of the crisis to the council, describing it as "unbelievable. We don't have any figures yet, the engineers haven't had a chance to sit down and assess the cost, but when you factor in all expenses like the hire of the water tankers, it would be unbelievable. I'd be afraid to count it up," she said.

Ms O'Donoghue said council staff had returned to work on St Stephen's Day, and had worked through the first weekend of the New Year. "We knew there was going to be problems when the ice melted, but the thaw came so quickly it has caused a lot of problems with leaks and bursts."

The council are also was unable to say when the water supply would return to normal. "It's hard to say. We are repairing leaks at the minute, but everytime we put the pressure back up more leaks appear.

It's easy to see the ones over ground, but underground leaks are going to cause major problems. Some people are also having problems with air-locks in the system."

With more bad weather forecast for later this week, Ms O'Donoghue was hopeful that it would not be as bad as last month. "We just have to take Met Eireann at their word when they say it will not be as bad this time. We're hoping it won't be the same level of snow forecast."

She added: "I would appeal to everyone to report leaks either to their local area office, or to the water services department in county hall."