A FAMILY has had tap water that the HSE says is not fit for human consumption and beyond even a boil water notice for months.
Brian Power, who lives in Fairyhall, O’Brien’s Bridge, Co Limerick with his wife and two children, first saw a change in his water quality around the time meters were installed in the area at the end of August. They have been living there for nine years with no problems prior to this.
“Since then the water has been disastrous. We first contacted Irish Water in the beginning of September. The water had been brown for a couple of days then it was coming out white. After three or four days it cleared and it looked relatively clear but it is ongoing. Every week to 10 ten days the water has been bad for three or four days. It is like dirt floating in it,” said Brian.
They completely stopped using their own water and he has been buying 30 five litre bottles every week since early September at substantial cost.
“We use bottled water for everything – washing dishes, brushing our teeth. The only thing we can use our water for is flushing the toilet. It’s not asking too much to have clean water, you can’t do anything without it,” said Brian. They have to go to relatives’ houses to take showers.
Despite ongoing calls to Irish Water, Brian says they have got “absolutely nowhere”.
“They promise somebody will call you back in an hour and no one calls back. There is no follow up, no responsibility, no sense of urgency,” said Brian. After contacting Limerick City and County Council, staff came out to test the water. It was sent to a lab and reported to the HSE. “We contacted the lab who told us that we are not to use the water. That we are on a boil water notice and we would receive some notification. We received no notification. They said we were the only house in the area affected by it but we said how could it be just us as we are in the middle of the line,” said Brian.
After a second test the HSE told them on Monday the water was so bad it failed to meet EU standards and was even beyond a boil water notice level.
As they couldn’t believe they were the only ones affected, Brian’s wife visited upto 20 house on the rural road and found they all had the same issue.
“Irish Water says we are the only ones. We are getting absolutely no feedback, we’re getting no support and Christmas is coming,” said Brian.
Cllr Shane Clifford said it was a complete disgrace that a hard working family who pay their taxes do not have access to clean drinking water.
“It is absolutely shocking and the response to the problem by Irish Water has been nothing short of derisory. This started late last August, it is now the middle of December and this family are facing into Christmas next week without clean running water. It is a basic human right,” said Cllr Clifford.
In response to a query from the Limerick Leader, an Irish Water spokesperson said it is aware of the issue in question.
“Following the complaint from Mr Power in October, Limerick County Council on behalf of Irish Water investigated the matter. As part of this investigation, it was established that the installation of a meter had not caused the problem and after further investigation established that the problem arose as a result of a significant leak in the supply. The leak was causing silt to be pulled into the water supply resulting in the water conditions experienced by Mr Power.
“Limerick County Council on behalf of Irish Water has now fixed this leak.
The investigation was carried out in consultation with the HSE who advised that the water was not fit for human consumption. Representatives from both Limerick and Clare County Councils carried out testing of the water today [Wednesday]. The results of the testing will be passed to the HSE who will review and make the decision as to whether the water is fit for consumption.
Irish Water will continue to monitor the situation in the area.
“Irish Water did not receive any other complaints however, representatives from Limerick County Council on behalf of Irish Water did visit other houses in the area to see if they were experiencing any issues with their water supply.”