In Portlaoise the taps are leaking so much that some traders used 1.5 million gallons each in just one year. Tired of covering this expense, Laois County Council decided to install water metres in businesses, to charge them for every 1000 gallons used.

The idea behind this decision is to discourage wastage and help to pay for new water schemes. However this move has gone down badly among traders, some of whom will be unable to pay. They feel they are subsidising services and are being unfairly penalised.

The Council denies this and says it has always been practice to charge traders. The problem is water wastage. Once the metres were installed, there were visible signs of efforts being made to conserve water.

Outside Portlaoise, on the outskirts of the village of Ballyroan, another water row is brewing. Here people organised a group water scheme which cost £14,000 to set up. The residents put up £3,500 of their own money and their own labour and claim that as soon as the Council took over the scheme to administer supply, prices increased. They feel they are being victimised by the Council.

I think, we must have after all, some recognition of our work and I think this is really why we feel why we must fight this piece of bureaucracy.

This episode of ‘Newsbeat’ was first broadcast on 6 January 1971.