Do not use the water

 

Sir, – After many years of inconsistent quality water in Belvelly, Cobh, due to high levels of iron in the water caused by cast-iron pipes in use since the 1900s, the area has been on a “Do not use” notice since August 16th. Not even safe for preparing vegetables or brushing teeth.

Cork County Council provides a tanker of water, which must be boiled before use. At a time when we are all trying to cut down on plastic, Belvelly residents are purchasing large plastic bottles of water three to four times per week. Short-term solutions are being used in an attempt to remedy the situation: such as regular flushing of the contaminated pipes and using high levels of chlorine (some of which flows directly into a Special Area of Conservation in Belvelly estuary).

The ban was prematurely lifted for three days on November 16th. During the lifting of the ban residents who complained of the poor water quality were advised by Irish Water to run their taps for 15 minutes before use, or place the highly chlorinated water in the fridge for 24 hours before consuming. The ban has been reinstated since November 19th.

A local councillor has applied for historic results of water tests. We are still waiting . . . An air of mistrust has been created by Irish Water’s poor communication. What have we been consuming all of these years?

The short-term measures aren’t working and if Irish Water is to be believed we won’t be having safe water any time in the next six to 12 months.

Surely it’s the moment to to stop wasting time with the short-term measures and get to work on the long-term solution and replace the pipes.

More than 200 residents are affected, including older people with low immunity, families with babies and young children. Before people begin to throw in the “well if you’d only paid for water” argument, many of us in the area had the meters fitted and were hoping to use withholding of payment in an attempt to demand consistently clear safe water.

Belvelly is a picturesque, historic area. The recently renovated Belvelly castle is magnificent. How must the investors who pumped millions into its restoration feel about not having safe drinking water in the locality? – Yours, etc,

ALI CULLINANE,

Cobh, Co Cork.