I thank the Chair for allowing me to raise this matter on the Adjournment. If the Chair thought, having regard to the number of occasions on which I and my colleague Senator Fitzsimons have raised this matter, that we are not just neglected but abandoned for the past 40 years, he would be quite right. I thank the Minister and apologise for bringing her in on such a dreadful night, but I put in this motion last week and the Minister will agree with me when I give a very brief outline with regard to this problem.
I raised this matter in this House in September 1985 and outlined the history of this water scheme. There is no need to go into great detail. I mentioned at that time the grave and urgent need for a proper and clean water supply for the Oldcastle to Crossakeel area. I outlined the problems in relation to the scheme as it existed then and still exists there. I stressed the necessity on many grounds, for the implementation of the phase to which I am referring tonight. I will not go into detail again as to the many reasons why this schene should be implemented, but the existing scheme was then inadequate and obsolete. As reluctant as I am to make this type of statement either here or at county council meetings, we have now reached the stage where the health of the people in the Oldcastle area is at risk.
The development of the area is seriously curtailed because the scheme has not been implemented. Furthermore, since I first raised the issue in 1985 there has been a further deterioration in the existing scheme. Breakdowns are commonplace. They are becoming frequent in the supply line from Lough Creevagh which is the source of the supply to Oldcastle. Meath County Council have lost a fortune, in money terms, dealing with these breakdowns, as the pipes on the supply line are corroded or perforated. The supply to Oldcastle is though the Lough Crew Hills and in some cases the pipeline is situated anywhere from 10 feet to 16 feet underground. Here we have the problems that when a breakdown occurs in this sandy ground the water is inclined to go down through the ground and it will not surface. Meath County Council have a very difficult problem trying to detect the breakdown and last year they had to get special equipment to try to detect it. It is an impossible situation. On the other hand people who own this land will not allow the County Council to dig at random across their land to find out where the problem is.
There is also a problem in relation to Crossakeel where one of the reservoirs is situated. Meath County Council implemented a small water scheme there many years ago, from finances raised when we were striking our own rates. Since then Crossakeel developed. There is a very good housing scheme there and every weekend they are almost completely without water because of the demand. When the Oldcastle scheme is completed there will be a reservoir in Crossakeel and that will meet all the requirements of that area. When that is completed we will have several group schemes in the area, which will supply the whole farming community. At that stage all north Meath, Cavan and part of Westmeath will be linked up with a proper and adequate water supply.
The Minister of State, Deputy Fergus O'Brien, gave a commitment to this House. He stated that there was no question of lack of goodwill or of finance from his Department. I am not placing any blame whatsoever on the Minister or the Government. All the relevant data, which the Minister referred to, have been submitted to the Department. The problems we had with regard to safe acquisition for the reservoirs are completely ironed out. Will the Minister now give a commitment that the scheme will go for tender and that the work will commence early in 1987.
I am delighted to see a Minister here who lives at a place called Millbrook, where courtesy of myself we extended a pipeline some years ago, to ensure that she would have a nice water supply. We did not form a group scheme at that time. At that time we had a bit more common sense in local authorities and the supply is coming direct to Millbrook. I am sure this Minister will agree that we have fierce problems. There is green algae coming through the taps, four or five times a year. There is one area in the town where the water diverts and flows down hill and all the dirt, algae and the wriggly things I mentioned here before are coming out through the taps and taps are getting blocked. It is costing Meath County Council an absolute fortune. Week after week and month after month they are out digging, if it is not the public road where the water is oozing up, it is out on land to try to find the leak.
We discovered a leak recently which was estimated had been in there for nine or ten years and the water was flowing down through the ground. Meath County Council were very perturbed at that time, should a fire occur in Oldcastle as there was no pressure whatsoever and we should have had good pressure. We discovered another leak outside the town that could have been there six or seven years. We have had low pressure, bad supply and an antiquated system. We have everything in the pipeline now and I am asking the Minister to give us the go ahead to go for tender. As the Minister of State, Deputy O'Brien said, there is no lack of good will and no lack of money in the Department. All the data have been submitted to the Department and I hope that we will have a very satisfactory solution to this question and bring some hope back to the people of Oldcastle and North Meath.