AS the campaign for clean water for communities from Murrisk to Louisburgh continues, Minister Michael Ring has ‘reassured’ a community delegation that he ‘supports’ their cause but has told them that Mayo County Council will have to make an application first for funding for the public water system.
That is according to Mr Chris Grady, the chairman of Murrisk Development Association, who explained to The Mayo News last week that the delegation subsequently met Mr Iarla Moran, Head of Water Services at the local authority, in Lecanvey Community Centre in mid-January. The council wants the community to set up its own group water scheme – contradicting its own advice over previous decades.
“Again, we were told that we would have to wait at least ten years before Irish Water would run a public water system to Louisburgh, as the project was not included in the current five-year plan or the next one. We explained this was a non-runner and reacquainted him with the facts, as we did Minister Ring, that back in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s we were turned down for a group water scheme because all our water sources were coming from streams on the mountain [Croagh Patrick] and therefore not suitable,” Chris Grady said.
The delegation also confirmed that €500,000 was spent on a design for the public water system in 2007 after the then Minister for the Environment Dick Roche allocated €6.3 million for the project but the funding was never drawn down.
The design was made by Ward and Burke Construction, Kilcolgan, which coincidentally reconstructed the bridge and road in Louisburgh village in recent years and, moreover, was the contractor for the design and construction of the upgrading of the Lough Mask Treatment Plant.
Chris Grady said the community campaign, which has widespread support from Westport to Louisburgh and its environs, is ‘hopeful that Minister Ring will be able to use his political influence promptly’.
“If that doesn’t work our group will be intensifying our campaign. In the meantime, as a gesture of good faith in the minister, we have taken down our signs which highlight the fact that ‘Public water is a human right’.”
In an earlier Mayo News article, an Irish Water spokeswoman confirmed in a statement that the utility ‘has no plans or funding allocated for such a project in the 2017 to 2021 Capital Investment Programme’.
“Currently Irish water has no funding capacity for this type of development. Our present focus is on addressing deficiencies in existing public water and wastewater systems with funding allocated with approval of the economic regulator (the CRU) to maintain and upgrade these systems,” she told The Mayo News.