CONCERNS have been raised that the contractors working on the refurbishment of Patrick's Bridge have been using public water mains during the work despite the national hosepipe ban currently in effect.
The ban on the use of hosepipes was extended nationally on Friday and is expected to remain in place until the end of July at least. It may even be extended further if the dry weather continues, with Irish Water and local authorities continuing to closely monitor water levels.
Despite this, it is understood that contractors working on the refurbishment of Patrick's Bridge - a project which includes power washing the columns and surfaces of the bridge, as well as replacing the iconic lampposts - used a fire hydrant on Merchants Quay as a water source for their work in recent days.
The matter was raised by a local businessman, who contacted Sinn Fein councillor, Stephen Cunningham.
Mr Cunningham said he discussed the matter with City officials at a meeting yesterday, describing the use of the hydrant as 'a bitter pill to swallow' for the public and businesses, who have been asked to make cutbacks.
"A trader in the vicinity brought the matter to my attention and I referred it to Council after investigating it for myself, " Mr Cunningham said.
"The contractors connected hoses to the fire hydrant on Merchant's Quay and used that to powerwash the bridge.
"The executive confirmed in the meeting that they were aware of the practice but that they were unable to revoke the contract without significant financial penalties due to the tendering process."
Officials were due to meet with the contractors this morning to discuss alternative methods of cleaning the bridge amid growing concerns about water supplies and quality in city and county.
Mr Cunningham said, "I hope they can find some alternative, like filtering river water, as it simply isn't appropriate when everyone else is being asked to conserve."
The contract for the current phase of works on the bridge was awarded to Cumnor Construction Ltd.
It involves the removal of all vegetation and algae from the stonework, the repair and replacement of damaged or missing sections of the stonework.
Work will also include upgrading footpaths and kerbstones, the replacement of traffic signals, the repainting of pedestrian railing barriers, waterproofing the reinforced concrete slab and the addition of new lighting, which was custom made and shipped from Northern Italy.
The project is funded by TII and Cork City Council.