Seventeen kilometres of mains water pipes are to be replaced in areas of Co Cork where supply breakages have dogged communities for years.
County engineer David Keane yesterday confirmed that contractors GMC had been appointed for a nine-month project, and work was expected to begin shortly on some schemes.
Priority, he said, was going to mains replacement in Newtownshandrum, Crookstown, Bantry/Kealkil and East Ferry, near Midleton.
He told a Northern Committee meeting in Mallow that the overall scheme had been approved by Irish Water, which oversees all water and sewerage contracts.
Councillors welcomed the news, saying that for many years residents had suffered from regular water outages, due to breaks in ageing mains pipes.
Cllr Tim Collins said he had raised the issue of Newtownshandrum’s water woes many years ago, describing the existing supply as “an absolute disaster”.
“It’s certainly good news for the people living there,” Cllr Kay Dawson said of Mr Keane’s hope that the contractor would start work in Newtownshandrum within three months.
The meeting also heard that Irish Water was looking for an alternative water supply for parts of Kilworth.
Dozens of householders complained that a previously proposed scheme would supply ‘hard’ water and that this would damage household appliances, such as washing machines, boilers, and kettles.
Residents were against a new supply being routed from Downing bridge, which was already connected to a number of houses in the area and was being blamed for hard-water damage.
Councillors Frank O’Flynn and Noel McCarthy said residents had threatened to sink their own wells, rather than be supplied with water from Downing bridge.
Mr Keane said Irish Water was aware of local concerns and was considering a supply from Macroney.
Meanwhile, both councillors also raised concern that 2.4kms of mains piping replacement needed for Kildorrery was not on the replacement programme. Cllr O’Flynn said funding was put in place three years ago, by the Department of the Environment, for the Kildorrery project and asked what had happened to the funding.
Mr Keane said Irish Water was considering building a new reservoir in the village, before any water-mains replacement works could be undertaken, but could not give a timeframe for completion.
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