Tar traces found in Tipp drinking water supply

Eamonn Lacey

Eamonn Lacey

The domestic water supply in three Tipperary townlands has been shut down after traces of tar were discovered in the homes of horrified parents who raised the alarm.

People living in the Ballinalard, Clonpet and Brensha areas outside of Tipperary Town found black globules and black specks in the water supply in their houses from last Thursday to Monday when South Tipperary County Council closed down the domestic water supply.

The authority dropped information leaflets through doors in the area informing householders that the public water supply had been contaminated with roadside material/tarry substances and advised people in the interests of public health not to use tap water until further notice.

A mother of two young children living in the area said she contacted the authority on Wednesday of last week to inquire as to why the water supply was turned off in the area. She was told that a pipe had burst in the Kilross area and the water supply would be restored in a few hours which it was.

The woman was alarmed on Sunday when one of her neighbours ran to her house to warn her not to allow her children drink from the taps because they had discovered black specks in the water.

“The specks of tar from the water just clung to your finger and you could not get it off.I turned off my own supply and I rang the county council immediately on Monday morning ,” said the distraught woman.

She had been told that other neighbours had complained to the Council on Thursday last about the black specks in the water supply and she was disgusted that the Council did not sent anybody to investigate those complaints on the Thursday and only dispatched somebody to examine the water on Monday after she had made the complaint.

“People in the area are really worried because it was very difficult to see the black specks in the drinking supply if you were not looking out for them or aware of a problem. The council should have acted on the Thursday when the original complaints were made, not days later after people had been drinking the water in the area all weekend. The residents of all the houses were drinking this water obliviously. The council official who called to me on Monday said two complaints had been made the previous Thursday” she said.

The woman said she had to persuade council officials when they called about the seriousness of the matter and once they established there was a problem the water supply was closed down.

“A sample analyst and other officials called and we were informed a full water audit would be carried out. A leaflet drop was carried out informing people about the situation and portable water tanks were provided on Monday evening,” she said.

The woman said there was major concern among residents of the three areas about the public health risk that existed in the area from the Thursday to Monday when the water supply was closed off.

“This action should have been taken on Thursday not days later. People should have been informed earlier of the problem and the closing down of the supply was left too late. All of the neighbours are very worried about what happened,” she said.

One school in the area, Mount Bruis national school which has ninety five pupils, has also been instructed not to use the drinking water in the building until further notice.

At the time of going to press South Tipperary County Council had not issued a statement on the matter .