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Concerns North East water crisis could happen in other parts of the country

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said there are antiquated pipes that need to be fixed all over the country.

Updated 12.30pm

THERE ARE CONCERNS that the water crisis, which hit the North East this week could happen in other parts of the country.

Around 70,000 people in Louth and east Meath have been left without water since a pipe burst last week.

WATER SHORTAGE 758A7809_90518843 Residents in East Meath and Louth filling up from a water stations yesterday. Source: Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews.ie

When the problem was first announced, locals were told it would be fixed on Saturday, but the deadline continued to be stretched out as time went on. Yesterday Irish Water said it would probably be Friday “and maybe even the weekend” before normal water services are restored.

Work is underway this morning to replace the broken pipe with a special fitting that was manufactured in Belfast. This is the fourth attempt to try and fix the ruptured pipe.

Image1 (4) The repair parts for the outage in Louth and Meath Source: Ervia

In its latest update, Irish Water said mobile tankers are delivering to vulnerable and priority customers.

It also said tankers carrying almost 280,000 litres from reservoirs in Louth, Ardee, Collon and Tullyallen are distributing water directly into the network to provide water to Staleen and Termonfeckin/Clogherhead pump stations.

There are a number of stationary tanks and bulk water containers in place for people to get water, details of which can be found on the Irish Water website.

The company reminded customers to bring clean containers and to boil the water as a precautionary measure. Customers in theses areas are also being asked to conserve water until further notice.

‘Stop trying to undermine Irish Water’

Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTÉ 1, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy discussed the state of water pipes in other parts of the country. He said:

There are competing priorities for Irish Water all over the country in terms of antiquated pipes that need to be fixed.

Addressing criticism of Irish Water’s response to the situation in the North East, Murphy said that a huge coordinated response did kick in once it became a national emergency.

People need to stop trying to undermine the good work that Irish Water is trying to do.

“Irish Water is working very well with the local authorities to try and find a suitable response to this, to get the fix made and to prioritise that piece of pipe.”

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MINISTER VISITS WATER SHORTAGE LOCATION  758A8173_90518862 Minister for Housing, Planning, Local Government and Community, Eoghan Murphy Source: Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews.ie

When it was put to him that there is a “big risk that what happened in the North East could happen anywhere in the country at any moment given the state of the infrastructure”, Murphy said:

Of course it’s a risk, that’s why we wanted to set up Irish Water, that’s why we have to put in so much money to invest in new infrastructure around the country.

Head of Irish Water Jerry Grant said Irish Water needs €3.5 billion up until 2021. Yesterday he told Morning Ireland that it has money for this year, but needs €640 million next year and €700 million in 2019. When asked if that money is guaranteed, Murphy said:

It’s not guaranteed at the moment … we’re in discussions at the moment about how we’re going to find that certainty so Irish Water can make strategic plans over a number of years.

When asked if Irish Water is now competing with health spending and with all other spending. The Minister said:

“Of course it is, obviously it takes in a revenue from commercial streams, but it is competing with other demands on the national exchequer … that’s a difficulty but I’ve got to fight that fight in cabinet myself.

The idea of water charging was to ensure there was a certain amount ring fenced on an annual basis for investment in water services.

When asked about refunding the €170 million to people who paid their water charges, he said, “I think people should have to pay for their water” but added, “I have a responsibility to implement the will of the Oireachtas as expressed by the committee on the future of Irish Water”.

- With reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

Read: Supermarkets as far south as Dublin are being cleared out of water as shortage enters sixth day>

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