Dubliners living in ‘third world conditions’ over water outage

Residents in Skerries say they have reached ‘boiling point’ over lack of water in homes

Residents collecting water for their homes at Barnageeragh Cove in Skerries.

Residents in the coastal town of Skerries in north Dublin say they are living in "third world conditions" after being left without running water for days.

Irish Water has blamed plummeting reserves in the Thomastown reservoir following the dry spell, for restrictions in place since Thursday.

While most areas can fill up their tanks between 6am and 10am, many in the elevated Barnageeragh Cove development and surrounding areas say they are not getting any running water at all.

“Irish Water says it is because we live on a hill,” said mother-of-two Karen Power, who is on maternity leave with her three-month old boy and who also has a two-year-old girl.

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“It is absolutely ludicrous. We can see the sea everywhere but we have no water - we are not getting a drop.”

Ms Power, who used to work for aid agency Concern, said she has visited developing countries with better water supplies.

Bringing home the water at Barnageeragh Cove in Skerries.

Her family moved into their home in the estate a year and a half ago. Since then they have had five “significant” water outages - lasting two days or more. There have been 20 other outages lasting “maybe half a day or a day”.

“The last one was in March. We didn’t have water for five days,” she said.

“We had our little boy in February, and I had just come home after a C-section.

“The hospital wanted to bring me back in, because they said it wasn’t sanitary. I had to shower daily because of the wound.”

Bills

Ms Power says she has neighbours who are heavily pregnant, have weeks old babies or have several children, and are being forced to ration drinking and washing water collected from a tank outside a local shop.

Supermarkets are selling out of bottled water, and residents are stockpiling waterwipes, hand sanitisers and dry shampoo.

“It doesn’t come cheap,” said Ms Power.

Added to those extra costs, some have been hit with up to €1,000 bills for replacing “burnt out” water pumps, destroyed because supplies are cut off without any notice, she said.

Karen Power with her husband Derek, daughter Olivia and son Thomas (age three month) at the beach in Skerries last weekend.

“A lot of people are getting very annoyed and upset now. You can put up with one or two times, but we are getting passed from pillar to post and no-one is taking accountability.”

Furthermore, she said the ongoing development of more houses beside them will only “exacerbate” the problem. Pickets, petitions and legal advice are being talked of among neighbours.

‘Boiling point’

Paul Redmond, his pregnant wife and their four-year-old daughter, have been living in the development for three years.

“There is a couple of water tanks at Skerries Point shopping centre, but they run out quickly, because we are constantly going back and forward for water to flush the toilet, for washing, laundry,” he said.

“At the moment the whole estate is super angry.

“No-one can do the basic things we need to do, and a lot of people with kids are finding it very difficult.

“We’ve made many, many calls to Irish Water but they don’t seem to be taking it very seriously. I have never got a reply from the call centre number.”

Mr Redmond said neighbours are at “boiling point”.

Collecting water at Barnageeragh Cove in Skerries.

“It is absolutely crazy. I pay my Irish Water bills, I pay four grand tax a month and we don’t have any water for days. I have to go to my sister’s house to wash clothes and have showers - putting pressure on her family as well.”

Irish Water response

Suzanne Collins, Irish Water spokeswoman, said there "seems to be an issue" for those in Skerries who are on the "extremities of the network".

“We are urging those people to contact our call centre, particularly vulnerable customers, who are post-operation or who can’t leave the house and we will deliver the water to them,” she said.

The current restrictions apply to Barnageeragh, Skerries Rock, parts of Downside, Hamilton Hill, Town Parks, Newtown Parks, St Patrick’s Close, Kelly’s bay, Greenhills, Millview, Hillside Gardens, Moran View and Hoar Park.

Customers in the Loughshinny and Skerries Road are also asked to conserve water.

The restrictions are to be reviewed on Monday.