Cork County Council had to fix 375 leaks at newly installed water meters last year and get an additional 80 meter boxes replaced, because they were faulty.
The news has led to claims some Irish Water contractors installing the meters and connections to them were guilty of “shoddy” workmanship.
The figures were released in a report sought by Cllr Des O’Grady, who said he had spoken to a number of county council-employed plumbers who had to fix the problems and they had expressed concern about the workmanship they had encountered.
Cllr O’Grady said he had pictures in his possession — which he said he could pass onto council officials — showing leaks at newly installed connections.
“In one estate, 70 water meters were put in and 30 had to be repaired,” he said.
Cllr O’Grady also maintained that new plastic pipes had been connected to old lead pipes during meter installations, instead of the latter being removed on health grounds.
Cllr Tim Collins said, as a former engineer, he was very surprised to hear that was happening. “I wouldn’t be happy to see lead and plastic pipes being connected to each other,” he said.
Cllr Melissa Mullane said that if such situations were already happening, she would not be surprised if all the meters would have to be replaced well before the end of their lifetime.
Cllr Kevin Murphy suggested that Irish Water bosses should be brought to a meeting of the council to explain why this was happening.
The disclosure of the information about leaks at meter connections and faulty meters prompted several councillors to outline concerns about water services.
Cllr Kieran McCarthy said he reported a serious leak in his hometown of Cobh only to be told by an Irish Water phone operator there was no problem there.
“They just don’t know what they’re doing,” he said.
Cllr Frank O’Flynn said he had tried to report a leak in the North Cork village of Kildorrery and the people he spoke to did not know the location of the village.
The county council acts as local agents for Irish Water and last year fixed approximately 3,600 leaks in water mains around the county.
The report stated there were 230 manual workers in the council’s water section, of which 175 are at skilled/curator level and 55 are general operatives.
Cllr O’Grady said that, with the amount of leaks, there should be 10 times the number of general operatives.
Siptu is balloting the council’s “outdoor staff” for industrial action, because it says there are too few of them to carry their massive workload of repairing roads, water leaks, etc.
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