When people in Donegal were enjoying the July heat, residents of a Drumboy, Lifford estate had to keep their windows closed.
“You couldn’t have a barbecue,” said one woman.
A group of residents spoke to the Democrat last week, the day after a Donegal County Council crew made their most recent trip to clean the foul water that frequently overflows a manhole near the entrance to the estate. Last week marked the fourth time this month a council crew had been to the estate for a clean-up. The problems began more than four years ago.
Fianna Fáil Cllr. Gerry Crawford said the situation raises concerns about what will happen to estates with problems like this one - a St. Johnston estate has a similar problem, for example - once maintenance of water and sewerage systems comes under the authority of Irish Water. “Will residents have the same access to remedial works as they have at this point?” he asked.
“We need clarity as well as a remedy,” the councillor said.
Cllr. Crawford is bringing a motion before today’s meeting of Donegal County Council to discuss the implications of the transfer to Irish Water. He said the council has been very responsive to problems here when they arise, but said people wanted, “some sort of understanding about what was going to happen when you ring a number and are told to ‘press button A’, ‘press button B’, or ‘hold for an operator’.”
On days when the problem at this estate is at its worst, foul water runs down the main road of the estate to the national primary road from Letterkenny to Lifford, and offensive odours come up through plumbing systems into the 28 homes on the estate.
“You know it’s bad when you have to get out of your own bed and get into the spare room because of the smell,” one woman said.
Residents spoke of people walking along the main road who are splashed with foul water by cars driving by. Sometimes the water travels along the main road as far as the next estate.
“If you’re walking on the road and a car goes by, you’re guaranteed to get splashed,” one man said. Residents said that if their child kicks a ball outside and the ball bounces into the water, they cannot give it back to them. “It’s disgusting,” one mother said.