More than 6,000 people are without household drinking water in Co Clare for the past six weeks after their group water scheme became contaminated with aluminium.

In the midst of the Covid-19 health crisis, it is making isolation and cocooning efforts more difficult.

Lough Na Minna is the source of the Kilmaley Inagh group water scheme, which is one of the biggest in the country serving 2,000 householders and more then 6,000 consumers.

But now they are heading into their seventh week without proper drinking water in their homes.

Too much aluminium in the filtration process has left the water contaminated and under a HSE 'Do not Drink' notice. 

In addition, boiling the water does not work as it does not get rid of the aluminium.

Water tankers have been left in villages in the area for people to collect water to use to cook and to brush their teeth.

This vast group water scheme is run and managed by the EPS company in Co Cork, who have been flushing out the system for weeks.

However, it is not a quick fix solution given the 250km of pipes in the network.

Local Councillor Roisin Garvery of the Green Party, who is a consumer and member of the scheme, says the absence of household water has gone on far too long, and has now been made worse by the current Covid-19 crisis.

She has been delivering bottled water to elderly neighbours in the locality and making sure they have enough supplies. But the current health crisis has now exacerbated matters and making efforts to isolate and cocoon very difficult.

She said everyone across the country is stressed about the Covid-19 crisis, but to live through it without proper drinking water is an absolute disgrace.

She called on the company EPS to speed up its efforts to solve the matter.

Local man Michael Ryan, who lives with a disability, said seven weeks without drinking water was just too long.

He said this was particularly so during the crisis, when people are forced to go to Inagh village to get water from a water tanker, and people are concerned about the virus and about sanitation and hygiene.

Noel Carmody, who manages the Kilmaley Inagh group water scheme, said he understands the frustration of local people and said the process of flushing out the aluminium from the vast system is a slow process.

He said testing of the water showed contamination levels are going down and he hoped that they would be diminished very soon to allow the HSE to lift the notice and people would have their drinking water back in their homes.

In a statement tonight, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government said the water is safe for hand washing.