Cork County Council is to write to Irish Water urging it to compensate people living in ‘hard water’ areas and to provide waivers for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Sinn Féin councillor Pat Buckley and Independent councillor Noel Collins won the backing of their colleagues for their respective suggestions at a meeting in County Hall yesterday.
Mr Collins said a large number of people suffered from IBS and, because of the condition, had to flush their toilets considerably more than average.
He said they should not be penalised because of the condition and should be given an extra amount of water free or charge.
Meanwhile, Mr Buckley said that those receiving hard water through their pipes should be compensated for the damage it does to domestic appliances, such as kettles and washing machines.
Fine Gael councillor Michael Hegarty said the problem was acute in parts of East Cork and it could cost anything up to €600 to replace an appliance which had been damaged by the limescale build-up caused by hard water.
Fine Gael councillor Margaret Murphy O’Connor said her home village of Belgooly had hard water.
“There should be a reduction in charges for these areas,” she said. “I contacted Irish Water this morning and they said no decision had yet been made in relation to it. A report is due shortly and people will be able to raise this issue with the Commissioner for Energy Regulation.”
Fine Gael councillor Kevin Murphy said the council should ask Irish Water to provide it with money to carry out water-softening projects in the affected areas.
“We should be able to treat it at source,” he said. However, party colleague Kay Dawson said this would not work and that each individual household would have to employ water-softening equipment.
Fine Gael councillor Tim Lombard suggested that, as well as writing to Irish Water, the council should also correspond on the issue with the Commissioner for Energy Regulation.
Sinn Féin councillor Melissa Mullane said there was a 500-house estate in Mallow which is supplied by water from two different sources.
“One side gets soft water and the other gets hard water,” she said. “In the latter area, a lot of appliances are breaking down. It’s unfair that they’ll both have to pay the same amount.”
Mr Buckley was also scathing about Irish Water’s response to some of his queries.
He said he wrote to the body some months ago asking it 12 questions to which he had received no reply.
“In the interim, I wrote to them asking about how to install a water meter,” said Mr Buckley. “In no time at all they sent me five pages back on that.”
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