A saga that began with clogged up washing machines and a contaminated domestic water supply in Portlaoise has revealed shortcomings in Irish Water's knowledge of its own water metering programme in the town.
Last week the Leinster Express reported on a 'hornets nest' in the town centre's water supply system because Irish Water does not know how water is used in older properties which, it claimed, were on shared supplies.
The problem came to light because of the contamination of a supply on Peppers Lane.
Then, late last week, the water company issued an updated statement to the Leinster Expess.
“Irish Water has carried out further investigations into the water supplies at Pepper Lane and Main Street Portlaoise and can confirm that the properties are un-metered. At the time that properties such as those at Pepper Lane and Main Street were built, they often were built to have shared or connected water supplies,” it said.
The company re-iterated the problem with shared supplies to older homes and also that it was not responsible for the contamination of the water in Karl and Katie Meehan's home.
However, the Leinster Express subsequently visited the lane where 16 water meters were clearly visible. This was reported on our website.
At the start of this week Irish Water issued a new statement.
“The meters on Peppers Lane are non-domestic meters, they are for business customers and not for domestic customers,” said the company.
The statement reiterated that the domestic properties on Peppers Lane and Main Street are not metered and have shared water supplies. It repeated that shared water supplies can result in a private home sharing the supply with a property that it is either above, below or beside them.
However, on Monday morning, a employee from Irish Water's metering subcontractors GMC Sierra visited the site leading to another statement.
“Following further investigations, we can confirm that the domestic property at Main St does not have an Irish Water meter attached to it. The Irish Water meters in the area are non-domestic meters for business customers and were not installed as part of the non-domestic metering programme.
“Historically a number of local authorities including Laois installed non-domestic meters as part of water conservation measures in some areas . Some of the meters on Peppers Lane were installed in 2008 and were part of this non-domestic metering programme,” said the statement.