Water crisis hits as 4,000 affected in Clonmel

The water supply in Clonmel is expected to be fully restored to normal levels within the next couple of days, after thousands of people in the town were left without a supply over Christmas.

The water supply in Clonmel is expected to be fully restored to normal levels within the next couple of days, after thousands of people in the town were left without a supply over Christmas.

An unprecedented and prolonged cold spell that saw temperatures plummet to minus 9 degrees, and the subsequent thaw that set in on the morning of St. Stephen's Day resulted in frozen and burst pipes throughout the town.

Frustrated and angry householders were unable to use water for cooking, flush toilets, take baths or showers or use domestic appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers during the festive period.

Borough Engineer Jonathan Cooney estimated that between 3,000 and 4,000 people were affected before and after Christmas Day. The Borough Council's staff were working flat out and he expected the service to be fully restored within the next couple of days.

Speaking yesterday (Wednesday) morning, he said that more people had been affected since the thaw set in. Since St. Stephen's Day approximately 200 burst pipes had been repaired.

However calls about broken pipes were coming in all the time and the Council had another list of between 50 and 60 leaks to repair on Wednesday.

The Borough Engineer appealed for people to report leaks, no matter how small, and to conserve water as much as possible.

He said the main problem up to St. Stephen's Day morning was one of frozen pipes, especially stop cocks, going into houses. From Tuesday, 21st until Christmas Eve tankers supplied water to a range of areas including Ard na Greine, Springfields, Tivoli Heights, Glenconnor Heights, Shanavine Way, Glenoaks, Morton Place, O'Connell Court/Raheen Court, Ashgrove, Old Toberaheena, Inis Carra, Cooleens Close/O'Callaghan Row, Boherduff Heights/Close, Northview Close and Oakland Drive.

Those tankers resumed deliveries on St. Stephen's Day. The Council had two tankers on the road every day and because resources were limited people in other areas who had no water were requested to collect water from those areas in Clonmel that were listed on the County Council website.

Mr. Cooney said that since the thaw set in the space bars in the stop-cocks had cracked, which resulted in burst pipes, and the higher areas of the town had been particularly affected.

It took about 20 minutes to repair each break and five leaks in the space bars were the equivalent of one burst mains pipe.

He said that over the past 12 months the Borough Council had reduced the flow of water coming from the Glenary and Poulavanogue supplies by about a third. As a result the Council was now able to restore the flow to its maximum capacity - otherwise many more areas of the town would have been left without water - and that spare capacity had been used over Christmas.

The Engineer said the Borough Council hadn't turned off the water at any stage.

Reacting to criticism that people weren't notified of the disruption to the supply, he said there had been regular updates each day on local radio.

Mr. Cooney said it was the second year in-a-row that the staff had worked through Christmas and they were doing their utmost to try and restore the supply.