Homeowners around the county may be facing costs of up to several hundred Euro as Irish Water calls time on local authority drain and pipe
Irish Water has come in for strong criticism, as it no longer sanctions local authorities to clear or unblock sewer pipes and other drains on privately-owned land, despite doing so for decades.
Homeowners a number of Clonmel and Cahir estates have been affected, so far, but Cllr Richie Molloy who is calling on Irish Water to allow local authorities to continue this practice, believes this will soon become a national issue. He believes the council has a ‘moral obligation’ to provide this service.
“Irish Water are saying that the cost will have to be bore by the householder but it used to be the case that the [former] Borough Council would clean the drains once or twice a year. This is not the solution and we should be calling on Irish Water to continue this practice as a precedent has been set,” he said.
According to Cllr Molloy, the pipes in question were laid under gardens at the back of houses, in some local authority estates built up to 30 or 40 years ago in some locations. Over time some of the houses were privately purchased, but the council continued to maintain the pipe system.
“The council have been cleaning these drains two times per year, they can’t expect residents to pay for them now, we need clarification on this, and we have a duty to provide this service,” said Cahir Cllr Marie Murphy.
Gina O’Grady lives in Kickham Park, Clonmel, one of the affected estates. She told The Nationalist that she recently had to pay €120 to a plumber for clearing the sewer pipe which runs under her back garden. It is a significant cost that she cannot continue to sustain.
Ms O’Grady grew up in the same house in Kickham Park, which was built over 50 years ago by the council. The house was later purchased by her parents. She can always remember the council unblocking a pipe or clearing a drain.
“All of a sudden now this is left to us to sort out. I remember there being issues with the sewer pipes in the area, as a child,” she said.
According to Ms O’Grady the sewer pipe that services her house is laid ‘barely one foot’ down from the surface of her garden and in heavy rainfall she is ‘terrified’ because the pipe can get blocked and her ‘whole garden fills with sewage’. Until recently whenever an issue arose, all it took was a phonecall to the council and they would send workers to ‘blow the line’. This may happen four to six times per year, she said. There are elderly residents living nearby who are concerned and worried about this latest develpoment.
“A precedent was set and we relied on the service, this is an ongoing issue that goes back 40 years.”
Ms O’Grady is currently organising a petition from Kickham Park that she plans to present to Clonmel and Cahir District Council. She feels Irish Water is too far removed from local areas and issues. She said residents received no notification about this change in practice.
“We want the council to be able to continue to do what they have always done.”
Clonmel and Cahir district engineer Jonathan Cooney said that as of April 29, Irish Water informed them that ‘drains on private property are the responsibility of the customer/group of customers’.
“We have no authority to interfere with water mains/combined drain without the approval of Irish Water,” he said. Cllr Molloy’s motion was supported by the all councillors and will be sent to Irish Water for their consideration.