The people of South Kilkenny will not be getting soft water, and in fact should not be installing water softeners for their kitchen taps, Kilkenny County Council has been told.
The issue was raised by Cllr Pat Dunphy (FG) at the council’s meeting on Monday, as residents are frustrated by the damage that the limescale of the water is causing costly damage to their household appliances. It also comes amid a series of meetings held in the area by residents campaigning to have the water softened following a switch to a hard-water source for the mains two years ago.
Senior council engineer Billy Mernagh told members that there was no possibility of softening the entire water supply for the area, because the water is already safe, because funding would not be made available from the Department of the Environment, and because softening the water is not advisable from a health point of view.
“The new scheme is a really high-quality water,” he said, adding that “it is as good as anywhere in the county” and that it complies fully with all of the relevant regulations.
He said the ground-water source was “safe without any treatment at all, it is that pure,” and that it is “not by any means the hardest in the county.”
Regarding the question of softening the entire water system, he said: “It is not possible to soften the overall water supply.”
Health-wise, “it is not advisable to have softened water to drink,” Mr Mernagh said, and “the department, anyway, won’t fund softening the water supply because there is no need to soften a pure water supply.”
In response to a query from Cllr Cora Long (FF), who asked about the safety of the softeners that many people are installing, at costs of up to €1,000, Mr Mernagh said softeners could be suitable for water to be heated and for some appliances, but not for drinking water.
“My advice would be to leave the kitchen water separate from the softener and not to soften the general water supply,” he said.