Irish Water is to provide additional storage in the form of two storm tanks to help alleviate wastewater backing up in the sewer line at Walsh Island during heavy rainfaull.
The water utilities company will connect the tanks at the end of this year.
The statement comes as a family in Coolagarry had to vacate their home when raw sewage leaked from a manhole in their garden.
While Irish Water has since rectified a situation and is currently investigating the cause of the issue, Walsh Island residents are calling for a complete overhaul of the system which they say is outdated and unable to cope with capacity.
Liam Carty, chairman of the Walsh Island Development Group, says instances such as raw sewage leaking into gardens because of blockages in the mains sewerage pipe are a regular occurrence right across the village.
“It started last week when raw sewage came up through a manhole in someone's garden. The first notice of it was when they saw the kids jumping in the puddles of it,” Liam told the Offaly Independent this week.
“This is not the first time something like this has happened, it's happening in other gardens as well.”
Liam says that as well as the pipework being old and defunct, “it's concrete and we need new plastic piping,” the sewage pumping station is not up to servicing 300 houses, having originally been built to service just 60 houses.
“There have been various cases of this. Last year, the road collapsed close to the church because the sewage pipe collapsed. All the council could do was keep filling in the hole in the road.
“We can't seem to get a straight answer from anyone. Offaly County Council tell us it's Irish Water's responsibility, and when we ring them, they say it's Offaly County Council.
“The sewage plant was only built for 60 houses. But now the whole village's sewage is flowing through that main pipe, roughly 300 houses, and it's not capable of dealing with it.
“Irish Water have fixed the problem now, but another burst could happen next week.” Liam says what's needed is a complete overall of the mains sewerage system.
“I would like to see it replaced by newer plastic piping. The concrete piping is too narrow and it keeps getting blocked with paper. We also need a new sewage pumping station. Currently, Irish Water are employing contractors to come out and bring sewage in tankers from one side of the village to the other, that's happening about six or seven times a day. The system can't cope.”
In response to the concerns, Irish Water says it rectified a situation in a house in Walsh Island last week, carried out a clean-up and is currently investigating the cause of the issue. “Separate to that there have been issues in the past in Walsh Island, unrelated to this incident, where in storm conditions during heavy rainfall, wastewater has backed up the sewer line, as a result of insufficient capacity.
“This situation is currently being addressed by Irish Water with the provision of additional storage in the form of two storm tanks which are set to be connected by the end of this year and will avoid this situation from arising in future storm conditions.”
Irish Water advises that when any of our customers experience a problem to please contact the Irish Water call centre on 1850 278 278 in order to report the problem.
Fianna Fail Cllr Eddie Fitzpatrick was critical of Irish Water this week and what he said was a lack of communication with Offaly County Council's water and sewage services section regarding recent issues, one in Walsh Island, and another in Rhode.
“I was contacted by residents living in both villages regarding raw sewage flowing from manhole covers due to blockages on the main lines and this caused huge health concerns for residents living in the affected areas,” said Cllr Fitzpatrick this week.
“The communication link between Irish Water and local council staff is not satisfactory in dealing with emergency issues such as the problem with the sewage last week in Rhode and Walsh Island,” says Cllr Fitzpatrick.
Cllr Fitzpatrick complimented council staff for their swift response in resolving the situation and preventing it becoming a more serious health hazard.
“I believe the water and sewage services should never have been privatised to Irish Water. Unfortunately this is now the situation and I believe there should be a stronger link between the company and the Offaly County Council's area staff in dealing with emergencies” he concluded.