Water contamination leads to mounting pressure for farmers

Farmers in the Fethard region of Co. Tipperary are coming under mounting pressure as a result of a contaminated water source, according to the chair of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) Tipperary South branch, Erica O’Keeffe.

A ‘do not drink’ notice was issued to locals earlier this week, after the Fethard PWS (Public Water Supply) was contaminated with kerosene.

As well as this, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine confirmed that this warning would also apply to animals.

It was stressed that boiling the water will not be sufficient to make it suitable to drink.

Also Read: Contaminated water in Tipperary unsafe for humans and animals

Areas affected include Fethard, Killenaule, Gortnahoe, Ballysloe, Ballynonty, Moyglass, Mullinahone, Drangan, Glengoole, Cloneen, Ballinure, Killusty and surrounding areas.

Irish Water has admitted that this notice may remain in effect for a number of weeks, as the issues caused by this incident are addressed.

Despite water tankers being dispatched to the localities affected, the IFA’s Erica O’Keeffe believes Irish Water has not provided enough support to farmers in the region – during a particularly busy time of year.

“Some farmers have been drawing water for nearly a week to livestock, following last week’s storm; the situation is critical. Livestock need water.

With cows calving and sheep lambing, farmers are already under enough pressure. Water tankers have been deployed, but they’re for household use. They haven’t put anything in place for farmers.

“I understand Glanbia is supplying some dairy farmers with water. Other farmers are just relying on neighbours who have their own wells,” O’Keeffe said.

The IFA is set to meet with a representative from Irish Water this morning in order to attempt to find a solution to the issues facing farmers in the region.

Continuing, O’Keeffe added: “It’s a busy time of year for farmers. Surely Irish Water could reroute a supply; even if the water was turned on for just a few hours, so farmers could water their livestock.

“That would take some of the pressure off.”

With ground conditions as wet as they are at the moment, letting stock out onto land is not an option at the moment, she explained.

Solutions

In its most recent statement issued on Wednesday, March 7, Irish Water outlined that it is working with Tipperary County Council, the HSE and other relevant agencies to restore a water supply for washing and sanitary purposes.

It said: “Specialist contractors are on site doing a deep clean of the (water treatment) plant in order to bring it back into production.

In the meantime, we are working to restore a supply to as many areas as possible by rerouting water from outlying areas and establishing new borehole sources.

“There may be some areas where it will not be possible to restore water for several days and, in these areas, we will work with the community to maintain adequate alternative supplies.”