Several councillors raised questions on the quality of water in the county, in particular the south Longford are at a recent meeting of Longford County Council.
Cllr Barney Steele asked about the amount of chlorine used to treat water in the Ballymahon area. He said that he has received a number of complaints in relation to the water sourced from the River Inny and the odour that is coming off it.
Cllr Paddy Belton agreed that there were complaints from people in his area of a smell coming off the water, but not chlorine. He said people have stopped drinking the water as a result. “There was a good sale on water (from shops),” Cllr Belton remarked. “It seemed to be in different areas, but I think it has improved,” he added.
Cllr Peggy Nolan reiterated that the council does not need to put fluoride into the water – a point she says that she said she has made many times before. She said it could save the council €60,000 per annum, and when multiplied by all the local authorities, she speculated that the savings nationwide could run into millions.
Director of services Jack Kilgallen, said it costs the council €419,000 per annum to produce water in the Abbeyshrule water network, which supplies the region. He said it’s national policy to put fluoride into water; he said it’s not discretionary but is fully funded by the HSE.
Following a query from Cllr Mark Casey in relation to investment made in the water network and the handover to Water Ireland, Mr Kilgallen said any investment into water network is all recouped from the State.
“It’s not council money, as such. We’re agents of the State in carrying out the work – a bit like the national roads authority. We don’t control policy; it’s national policy.”
County Manager Tim Caffrey said discussions are ongoing between Bord Gais and the Department of Environment with regard to the new Water Ireland. He said it will be a slow process, with the anticipated handover expected in 2017. In the meantime, he said there will be service level agreements will between each local authority and the water utility.