There was unanimous support from Louth County Council Drogheda officials and Drogheda councillors for a motion from Cllr Declan Power to write and invite Michael Cunniffe, Asset Operations Lead (Water) East Region from Uisce Éireann to give this Council an update and answer questions on the ongoing problems that continue to persist at Castlecoo Hill reservoir in Clogherhead.
he area is frequently left without either low pressure or no water for long periods of time, in particularly residents at Castlecoo Hill and Strand Hill.
“Many Clogherhead and Termonfeckin residents have had to endure water problems regularly for over ten years. These will mainly happen in the winter when a burst pipe needs repairing, or in summer when there is a dry spell due to warm weather,” explained the Independent councillor in his motion. “We can all appreciate that this will happen and that action is required. However, the residents residing in Castlecoo Hill and Strand Hill have endured significant water problems and are most affected whenever there is an issue”.
He said being on the end of a water line doesn’t help, but going three, four or even nine days without water, as happened in 2021, is unacceptable.
The residents in these areas are incredibly frustrated, angry and annoyed at how Uisce Éireann treats them and their families. The significant issues before Christmas, when we all experienced the cold blast, were a hardship for these residents,” he added. The lack of water during this period affects not only the basic requirements of cooking, cleaning, bathing or flushing the toilet but also heating systems, leading to plumbing issues and property damage”.
Cllr Power explained that many of the issues from the reservoir at Castlecoo Hill are often based on supply and demand; there isn’t the capacity to serve everyone, and the pumping station is often a problem.
“Supply and demand will be an issue in the summer with the high influx of residents returning to mobile home parks. When nearby new and essential housing developments are completed, this will also have a continued impact on residents unless improved measures and investment is implemented that complement the €29 million upgrade at the Staleen water plant. An investment in upgrading the 4″pipe from Drogheda to Termonfeckin, which has caused many problems in the area, would be welcome and would improve the difficulties in the Clogherhead area,” said Cllr Power. “We have residents from the HSE, vulnerable adults with their carers that live in Strand Hill. These citizens are trying to live independently and adapt to routine. I work with a family in Strand Hill who has two autistic children, and again, adapting to a routine is vital to their development, who also have sensory issues”.
Cllr Power concluded that it is essential that the Uisce Éireann, Asset Operations Lead (Water) East Region be invited in to this chamber or, indeed, to a full Council meeting to answer questions and give reassurances of improved water supply measures to the residents of Castle Coo Hill and Strand Hill and perhaps other parts of the County.
Cllr Kevin Callan seconded the motion, saying there is ‘no less accountable body in the state than Irish Water’.
“The day that control was lost by local authorities for water services was a really bad day for communities across the country,” said Cllr Callan. “We lost all the local knowledge, so they will have to start attending meetings like this, especially in the largest town in Ireland, and become accountable for the local issues.”
Whilst supporting the motion, Cllr Joanna Byrne says the problems aren’t unique to Castlecoo Hill, and she knows why Irish Water is staying away.
“When they invited us all to Staleen in 2018, to give us an update on the works, they told us straight that Staleen would not be able to cope with the capacity for the Northern Environs of Drogheda,” she says. “They don’t have the answers, and that is scary for us and the citizens.”
Cllr Byrne suggested going to meet the Irish Water chiefs, if they wouldn’t come to them.
It was agreed for a letter to go to Irish Water officials from Louth County Council seeking an urgent meeting as soon as possible.