Dark days for Port’s water

The scourge of dirty black water in the pipes of Port returned again last week, but it may soon be solved, according to Laois County Council.

The scourge of dirty black water in the pipes of Port returned again last week, but it may soon be solved, according to Laois County Council.

When locals turned on their pipes in the past fortnight they were once again faced by the sight of black water. The water is contaminated with manganese. While naturally occurring in the supply the substance ends up in households because it has built up as sediment.

While it is claimed that the substance does not make the water unsafe, local people have had enough of the problem and want it tackled.

Local activist Margaret Guijt Lawlor is urging people to officially complain to both Laois and Offaly county councils, and says she will not pay the water charge if the situation does not change.

“I certainly will not accept paying for this water next year. I have no problem paying water charges, I did it when I lived abroad, but it has to be clean water, that’s the minimum expected,” Ms Lawlor said.

“They are only scouring the pipes when there are complaints. We are trying to set up a log of complaints. A lot of people are making their comments on facebook, but that’s not enough, they must complain to the councils,” she said.

Comments posted on Port’s Combined Residents Association page show the frustration of locals.

“It was like that in Clanmalire yesterday and last night you’d swear coke was coming from the tap,” one resident said. Water out here in Shiphouse is like this today. It must be doing the rounds in Port. I was told to leave tap running, lucky not paying for it yet,” another post reads.

Ms Lawlor has given a sample of the water to Senator John Whelan.

“The problem is happening on a regular basis now, on both Laois and Offaly sides of the town. It could be monthly, it could be three times in a week. If the glass is left to settle, you could drink it, but I wouldn’t drink it myself,” she said.

Michael O’Hora, Director of water services for Laois County Council, said they are testing a new wellfield to allow them to bring in a different source of water to the town. With new filters, he hopes the manganese problem will be solved.

“There was a burst in the system last week that exacerbated the problem. We closed the supply, and when we reopened it, the manganese sediment was disturbed and got back into the system,” he said.

Mr O’Hora said that manganese naturally occurs in the groundwater currently supplied to the town. and said it was safe while agreeing that it was not attractive.

“It doesn’t look good, but it is not a public health issue. It is not something the HSE concern themselves with,” he said.

“We have been in touch with people in the town. I know at the moment it is fairly clear, hopefully it will remain fairly good for the time being. We are trying to contain the situation as best we can so it doesn’t become a visual issue. We are keeping on top of it, and working towards a situation where manganese won’t be a problem,” he said.