South Roscommon public representatives have come out in force this week to criticise government delays in sanctioning a planned upgrade of water infrastructure in Killeglan, near Athlone.
Their comments came after a 'boil water' notice was put in place by Roscommon County Council last week following the latest outbreak of cryptosporidiosis in a local water supply.
The infectious organism was identified in the water in the Killeglan Water Supply Scheme.
Approved tenders for the improvement works on the scheme have been on Minister Phil Hogan’s desk since last year awaiting the green light to proceed to construction.
“It is time for Minister Phil Hogan to sign off on the necessary approval to carry out the works. Roscommon County Council is in a position to go to tender for the works that need to be done. Why is the Minister delaying in this respect?,” Cllr John Keogh asked this week.
“The people of Castlerea have been on a boil water notice for nearly three years. Other areas are on a boil notice. That is completely unacceptable in this day and age and any further delay will not be tolerated.
"This government are introducing water meters at a time when the network is in a shambles. They need to just get on with it and approve the funding necessary to carry out the capital works to upgrade the entire water network,” he said.
The Fianna Fáil councillor was fearful the boil water notice in South Roscommon would be in place for a lengthy period unless this work is carried out promptly.
“Whilst I do not wish to scaremonger, I and my colleague, Cllr Paddy Kilduff, have grave concerns that this precautionary boil notice may not be lifted for a considerable period of time.
"One of the criteria necessary to lift this precautionary boil notice is the need for a robust system.”
“As major works need to be carried out to upgrade the water supply network in South Roscommon, I believe that it might not be possible for the current system to meet that specific criteria, even though the problem with the contamination might be contained and removed and the water actually safe to drink within a short timeframe”.
Cllr Keogh attempted to reassure residents of Monksland, Kiltoom, Hodson Bay, Curraghmore and Barrymore, that the boil notice does not affect those areas and the water is safe to drink as it is provided from the Lisbrock water source.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael's Cllr Ollie Moore has sent an urgent letter to Minister Phil Hogan seeking approval for a new treatment system at Killeglan springs.
“In order to have the boiled water notice that is now in place lifted the HSE will require that a robust system be put in place as one of the points to be satisfied. In order to qualify this aspect of their criteria for lifting the boiled water notice a new treatment system is required to be installed at the Killeglan Springs,” the letter stated.
“The approved tenders for this new treatment system have been submitted to your office for approval by Roscommon County Council. I would ask that you give this matter your utmost priority as even with immediate approval it will take some time before the completed treatment system is in place and the boil water notice can be lifted,” Cllr Moore concluded.
Cllr John Naughten (FG) said the current situation was “not alone a health concern but also a significant inconvenience” for the people affected.
He said it was “simply unacceptable” and needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
“I am awaiting a response from the Minister for the Environment on when a proposed upgrade of the South Roscommon Regional Water Supply, which would address the cryptosporidium issue at Killeglan Springs, will take place,” he said.
He said he had been contacted by a “significant number of people” about the issue and said that large parts of South Roscommon were affected but this did not include the housing estates in Monksland and Bealnamulla.
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