There is little point in Cork County Council spending many hours discussing a new blueprint for future development in the region when they can't rely on Irish Water to provide the necessary infrastructure to allow them build more houses, councillors have said.
The utility came in for widespread criticism at a meeting in County Hall yesterday with calls being made to hand water and sewerage projects back to the control of local authorities.
Members of the council's Northern Division won unanimous backing from colleagues to write to the Taoiseach and Minister for Housing seeking information on how the utility is to be funded going forward, because it presently is unable to carry up a number of projects needed in the county.
Fine Gael councillor John Paul O'Shea said the funding model for Irish Water created in 2014 isn't working.
“It is pointless us being here to discuss the new County Development Plan (five year plan) when we can't plan building of new houses in areas because there are inadequate wastewater treatment plants there,” he said.
Councillors then listed numerous issues in each of their areas which aren't being addressed.
Fine Gael councillor Tony O'Shea said for “a fourth day in a row” crews are tackling breakages in a water main at Ballyclough, near Mallow.
Fianna Fail councillor Frank O'Flynn said Irish Water has promised to start work on upgrading the sewerage system in Mitchelstown next Spring, but it has now fallen off its list, as had the development of a new water tower in the nearby drought-stricken village of Kildorrery.
“We can't even build a couple of houses in Mitchelstown now. Irish water is not working,” he added.
Independent councillor Danny Collins said: “In Schull the water is now being shut off for certain times of the day. This is 2020, not 1940."
Independent councillor Paul Hayes said Clonakilty needs a new water supply and Irish Water has planned to bring it from the Dunmanway area. He said that has now been scrapped and they are now looking at the Bandon area.
Independent councillor Noel Collins said it is time councils took back such operations from the utility.
Fianna Fail councillor Joe Carroll said the main stumbling block to addressing the housing crisis is Irish Water because it can't provide the necessary infrastructure to support building programmes.
He also won widespread support from colleagues to ask Irish Water to drop a demand for a €2,272 water connection charge to people who are now building houses, but initially got planning permission for them prior to 2014.
Mr Carroll said when granted permission by the council, the people paid water connection charges to the local authority and this is therefore a double charge and is grossly unfair.
Meanwhile, standing orders were suspended when Fine Gael councillor Kevin Murphy said the wastewater treatment plant is Belgooly is “causing mayhem".
“The odour is appalling there. It is disgusting. More than 60 residents have reported it to Irish Water. I don't know how the residents can put up with it. It is a health issue and should be investigated. The treatment plant is either malfunctioning or overflowing,” Mr Murphy said.
Independent councillor Ben Dalton-O'Sullivan agreed with him. “The residents have to close their doors and windows. Irish Water has de-sludged the tanks but it still isn't working,” he said.