24 September 2008

Galway Water Problems

Council engineers in Galway have begun work on providing safe drinking water for up to 1000 householders in the Old Mervue area of the city, where supplies have been contaminated by lead.

One of the first actions engineers will take over the next few days will be to add lime to water in the city's main reservoir to reduce its acidity, and hopefully the corrosion which is taking place in the old lead pipes. The residents have been advised not to drink tap water until further notice.

There has also been concern about the lead levels found in three other areas of the city - Bohermore, Shantalla and the Claddagh.
Residents in these areas say they should be told immediately how long they have been drinking water which could be a threat to their health.

Further details are expected to emerge later today on the extent and the seriousness of Galway city's latest water contamination problems.

Cllr. Declan McDonnell (PD) said the City Council had been told that boiling the water did not remove the lead, meaning it would be dangerous to drink it or to use it in cooking.

An emergency meeting convened by Galway's Mayor, Cllr. Pádraig Conneely (FG), briefed councillors on the situation last night. (see my entry from yesterday)

Cllr. McDonnell said he was concerned at what he believed was "a failure to communicate the problem to residents".

In reply, the Mayor said he had called a public meeting for Friday night at which he hoped more precise details of the level of contamination will be available.
Installing taps on the cast iron mains will bypass the lead pipes which are at the centre of this latest health alert and should ease the inconvenience to residents, city officials said earlier.

What the council is not saying is what has caused this latest alert or just how serious the lead contamination is.

Under existing legislation drinking water which has more than 25 micrograms of lead per litre is regarded as unsafe to drink.
Tests by council engineers and Health Service Executive inspectors in several areas of the city have recorded levels in excess of this, but so far they have refused to disclose what those levels are.

One wonders why these details have not been given to the concerned residents, whose health is once again put at risk, while officials are trying to work out why they cannot do their jobs properly.

After more than a decade of massive economic boom with plenty of money available, Ireland is waking up to the reality that many parts of this country are not better than the underdeveloped 'third world' on which we so often look down. Before we offer any more help to the 'third world', we should first get our own country in order.

The Emerald Islander

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