Irish Water is ‘splashing the cash’ to repair Galway’s dodgy drinking water systems.
The utility has committed €27 million to tackle the eleven problem water supplies in the county that are considered a health risk to consumers.
It has also pledged action on six water sources in Mayo and four in Roscommon that are substandard.
Last week the Connacht Tribune revealed how almost one in every five people living in County Galway is supplied by dodgy drinking water.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed that some 32,364 residents of the county are connected to substandard water supplies that poses a ‘risk’.
Eleven public water schemes in all parts of the county are named in the EPA’s latest remedial action list, which names the supplies known to be ‘at risk’, and where corrective action is required by Irish Water.
A boil water notice, partial boil water notice or water restriction is in place at five of the schemes on the list, affecting 15,008 people. Four out of the five of these are due to the presence of potentially deadly parasite, cryptosporidium.
Irish Water (IW) is being hauled before the courts in relation to its failure to comply with an agreed programme of works at Carraroe public water supply. The scheme, serving 4,709 people, has inadequate treatment for cryptosporidium.
Boil water notices or partial notices are in force in Kilconnell, Loughrea, Williamstown and Leenane.
In a statement this week, Irish Water said it was committed to a plan to remove the eleven at-risk water supplies from the EPA’s remedial action list.
“Irish Water has committed to investing almost €27 million in water services, a significant investment in County Galway to ensure all water will be fully compliant and reaching EPA standards,” a spokesperson said.
It said that some €1 million is being invested in a short-term solution to the An Cheathrú Rua scheme. “It is scheduled to complete the works ahead of schedule by September 2016,” IW said.
The long-term plan is to connect Connemara with Galway City’s water supply.
A total of 218 people are impacted by the inadequate treatment for cryptosporidium in Leenane. The company said that upgrade works have commenced on the treatment plant and should be completed by the end of August this year, again “ahead of schedule”.
Corrective action on the Cleggan/Claddaghduff plant, where some 1,025 people were affected by elevated levels of THMs will be finished by Christmas.
The problem with Williamstown relates to poor turbidity removal – the proposed action plan is to abandon the current water supply and replace it with Lough Mask public water supply.
Some 1,348 people are served by Williamstown supply. No date has been given for the completion of the long-term measure but IW said its interim measure – proper disinfectant – will be installed this June.
Similarly, in Glenamaddy, the plan is to decommission the source and replace it with Tuam’s supply. No date was given but a disinfectant programme of works is underway as a stopgap.
The public supply in Ballyconneely also has high THMs, impacting 368 people – Irish Water said minor works are underway to “review the robustness” of the plant.
Some 233 people are impacted by the inadequate treatment of cryptosporidium in Kilconnell. IW said a process review is underway with, “the intention to return the plant to compliance by August 2016”.
Some 8,500 people are put-out by cryptosporidium in the water supply in Loughrea. The solution – the installation of UV – is supposed to be completed by May of this year. In its update this week, IW said: “UV mechanical units have been installed and commissioned in Knockanima and Lake Road. A filtration upgrade is expected to be completed in the next few weeks. There will be a process proving period after that.”
IW didn’t give any indication when works on Kilkerrin/Moylough would be completed. Some 1,932 people are impacted because the supply has no barriers for cryptosporidium, and it was due to be fixed in 2012.
Nor did it give any date as to when the upgrade of Ballinasloe supply would be completed. Some 10,270 people in the town are impacted by elevated levels of THMs that are above the standard in drinking water regulations.
A further 2,719 in Portumna also have higher than acceptable levels of THMs in the water supply. Works are ongoing in Portumna, IW said.
Mark Macauley of Irish Water said: “Irish Water has adopted a national Asset Management approach to drinking water safety which recognises the complex nature of the service and the need for an integrated programme involving investment, planned maintenance, standard operation with appropriate automation and monitoring as necessary to upgrade water supplies in Ireland to international standards.
“While ultimately requiring investment of over €2 billion in drinking water production and distribution by 2021, significant improvement is being achieved year on year by this approach.”
West has lower cancer survival rates than rest
Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.
A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.
For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.
These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.
“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.
In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.
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Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races
On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.
But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.
“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.
“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”
We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.
Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.
To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.
He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.
Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.
Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises
From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.
Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.
She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.
“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.
“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.
She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.
In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.
But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.
“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.
“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.
Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.
However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.
“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.
“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”
In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.
“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”