Councillors query 215% rise in the cost of Ballinhassig's main water pipe

Councillors query 215% rise in the cost of Ballinhassig's main water pipe
The cost and number of breaks was raised at a meeting in Cork County Hall by Cllr Ben Dalton O'Sullivan

Cork county councillors have questioned how the cost of replacing a main water pipe could have rocketed by 215% in just four years.

The local authority is to write back to Irish Water questioning a report sent to it by the utility and demanding that it keep a promise made in 2016 to replace the mains which is constantly breaking.

Councillors have also questioned the number of breaks Irish Water has admitted to and the cost of repairing each of them.

The issue was raised at a meeting in County Hall by Cllr Ben Dalton-O'Sullivan who said the constant breakages are causing huge disruption to businesses and householders in the Ballinhassig/Five Mile Bridge area.

He has previously claimed it isn't unusual for the mains to break at least 20 or 30 times a year and this is having a major impact on a wide area.

He said that instead of long-fingering the project Irish Water must prioritise it.

Cllr Aidan Lombard said in December 2016 a 4.7km section of main was sanctioned for replacement at a then cost of €1.175m. Irish Water has said the current estimate is €3.7m.

“This is a rise of 215%. I work in the construction industry and inflation in it is at 7%, so how can this be justified?” he asked.

The design was done on the project in early 2016 and its construction was supposed to get underway towards the end of that year. Instead, Irish Water pulled the plug.

In its reply to Cork County Council, Irish Water listed 10 major breaks which had occurred in the pipe since mid-2018.

“Clearly the date that should be used for the amount of outages is from December 2016 when Irish Water reneged on their commitment. This would give a much larger figure of outages and a much larger cost,” Mr Lombard said.

Cllr Seamus McGrath said the response from Irish Water suggests each break cost €10,000 to repair and maintained that couldn't be accurate as some would be larger than others.

“The situation has gone beyond acceptable," Mr Lombard added.

"Each outage results in the village of Ballinhassig closing and the contractor for Irish Water is there so frequently that he has made up signage that says that the Five Mile - Ballinhassig Rd is closed. 

"To add insult to injury these businesses are getting bills for a standing charge during the period they were closed. 

"They never know if water will be there or not. But Irish Water feels it's appropriate to bill them for a service they don't supply with any certainty.”

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