A NUMBER of Cork County Councillors have expressed concerns about what they call “shoddy” workmanship by Irish Water contractors after it was revealed the authority had to replace almost 80 new meter boxes last year.
The figures were released to Sinn Fein Councillor Des O'Grady who had previously requested the council compile a report into the number of leaks it repaired, and boxes it replaced, on behalf of the utility in 2016.
The resulting data, which was distributed at this week’s council meeting, reveals the council repaired a total of 3,500 leaks.
Of these, 375 occurred at meter boxes. Almost 80 meter boxes had to be replaced.
“This report raised more questions than it answered, for me,” said Cllr O’Grady.
“The amount of problems that Irish Water are leaving behind when they install these water meters is phenomenal… this is shoddy workmanship and the council is picking up the tab and is left to clean up Irish Water’s mess.”
He said that when a meter box is installed, there should be one pipe going in and one going out, resulting in four fittings.
“I’ve seen examples of metres that have eight and up to 16 fittings by Irish Water contractors to connect to the meter,” he said.
“They also imported shoddy boxes, I’m informed of, and the fact that many of them have had to be replaced already stands testimony to that. Also, I would like to highlight the fact that in one estate I was informed about, there were 70 houses and 70 metres installed and 30 of them had to be repaired. Either the piping had leaked or the boxed had leaked.”
Party colleague Melissa Mullane said she got a plumber to inspect some of Irish Water’s work, and was shocked at the result.
“I myself got a plumber, a very qualified man with many years experience, to take a look at one of these jobs and he was absolutely appalled,” she said.
“I’m not an expert on joints and all that, but this was like a jigsaw puzzle. In fact, his opinion was that every metre box in the near future will have to be replaced if the workmanship is like this. It is appalling.”
Independent Councillor Kieran McCarthy said Irish Water, in general, is “all over the place”.
“There’s a particular street in Cobh with 30-odd houses and they were without water for three days last week… When I rang Irish Water about the problem last week, I was told there’s nothing flagged up here, there are no breaks, we don’t know, we’ve no reports of any problem in the area of Cobh,” he said.
“A resident contacted Irish Water the day before me and was told the water service would be back on at 8pm. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.” He accused the service of “not respecting the public” by not informing them properly of leaks and outages.
“It’s a sad state of affairs when the public have to go to the council and the council has to revert to Irish Water and we end up doing the job for them anyway.” Fine Gael representative Kevin Murphy called on the council to bring an Irish Water representative before the authority to answer its questions on these matters.