Irish Water to spend €15.8m on Cork City upgrades, but Anti Austerity Alliance unhappy

27 October 2015
By Bryan Smyth
bryan@TheCork.ie

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Irish Water, in partnership with Cork City Council is investing €15.8 million in the replacement and rehabilitation of 27.6 km of old water mains in Cork City. Having successfully completed an advance contract for this project in 2014, works on the Cork Water Mains Rehabilitation project will begin in early November. The Cork City Water Mains Rehabilitation project will improve reliability of supply and reduce leakage in the city by approximately 18 million litres per week. This will save water equivalent to the capacity of 7 Olympic sized swimming pools.

“The works will replace old water mains that are in poor condition, resulting in fewer burst mains, leaks, disruptions to drinking water supply and an overall improvement in the water quality and level of service to our customers – which is a priority for Irish Water,” said Mark O’Duffy, Irish Water.

The first phase of the Cork City Water Mains Rehabilitation project will replace old leaking pipes with new heavy duty polyethylene (heavy duty plastic) and ductile iron pipes in an area stretching from Commons Road, Blackpool to Pope’s Quay, North Mall and Blarney Street. This first phase of works are programmed to be completed by February 2017.

“These vital works to increase water supply and reduce leakage in Cork City will be carried out in short sections to minimise impact on residents, businesses and road users. The works will involve some short-term water shut offs for a number of hours over a day or two in each area when the pipes are being connected to the system. We will ensure that householders and businesses are informed of any works in their area before works commence,” added Mark O’Duffy, Irish Water.

The Cork City Water Mains Rehabilitation project will also replace water service connections to properties that are currently supplied by communal or shared services that are located either in backyards or on private property.

The Project Team will notify the local community in advance of planned works in their areas and provide contact details should they have any queries. The Project Team will work closely with businesses to minimise any potential disruption and with An Garda Síochána to manage traffic while the works are underway.

Why is work being carried out in this area?
Water mains in the works area that stretches from Commons Road to Pope’s Quay, North Mall and Blarney Street, have been identified as being in poor condition resulting in the risk of water main bursts and water leakage. Replacing and rehabilitating these mains will reduce leakage or unaccounted for water in this section of the system by up to 8.2 million litres per week.

How do you know that the water mains are in poor condition?

A targeted pipe sampling and testing programme was carried out by Cork City Council showed that;

• 40% of the pipes sampled and tested in the area that stretches from Commons Road to Pope’s Quay, North Mall and Blarney Street, had high levels of corrosion, which leads to high leakage, pipe bursts and generally reduced levels of supply to consumers and;
• Many existing water mains have significant build up on the internal walls of the pipes, with some sampled and tested pipes having so much build up that the available space for water to flow through was reduced by up to 80%. This means that a 200mm (8”) diameter pipe would only have the capacity of a 90mm (3.5”) diameter pipe. The result of this restricts the flow of water through the pipes leading to reduced water pressure.

Unease in Cork

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Meanwhile, however Anti Austerity Alliance councillor Mick Barry this morning claimed that information released by Irish Water over the weekend shows that the water charges boycott campaign is winning and has the capability to defeat the charges.

His comments came as the third tranche of water bills start arriving in Cork and after Irish Water conceded that 52% of their targetted customer base failed to pay the second IW bill. According to thejournal.ie over the weekend:

“The utility says that 745,000 households paid during the second billing cycle compared to 675,000 in the first. In total 830,000 households have now paid part or all of their bills representing 55% of the customer base of 1.52m. However, the second bills have only been paid by 48% of people.” Cllr Barry said: “Despite all the intimidating phonecalls, letters and text messages from Irish Water a majority of households boycotted the second bill. The boycott is very strong and it is not going to go away.”

Cllr Barry stated that no penalties can be incurred for nonpayment on the first four bills and called on people to hold firm and to make abolition of the charge a major issue in the forthcoming General Election.”

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