herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Irish Water official: 'City council were well aware of lead pipe issue'

water

Jerry Grant
Jerry Grant

A SENIOR Irish Water official has alleged that Dublin City Council were "well aware" of the lead problem in the capital.

Jerry Grant, Irish Water's head of asset management, addressed an environmental meeting of the council yesterday on the problem of lead piping in the capital.

Mr Grant said the issue of lead in water supplies was not high on the list of priorities when the utility took over because the scale of the problem wasn't known.

"We didn't sleepwalk into this but we encountered a hell of a lot of issues," he said.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports, he said, lead to "a false sense of security" because the samples showed 99pc compliance with lead levels in water.

"However, that is because there wasn't enough sampling happening at the tap," he said.

"If you don't sample at the tap you are not going to pick up the lead because it's a household issue."

The utility plans to have removed all remaining public lead piping within a decade, subject to Commission of Energy Regulation funding.

Mr Grant said that it was fair to say that the capital had a "significant" lead pipe problem and that the council had been removing pipes for many years, particularly in response to rising levels of lead.

"It's also probably fair to say that they were well aware of the issue, on the basis that, for example the old boundary water would have a higher solvency risk than many of the waters around the country," he said.

"So, therefore, it would be likely that more lead would migrate to water in such pipes."

Results of Irish Water testing published this year showed some houses in Dublin had up to 80 times the legal limit in it.

Irish Water plan to carry out up to 45,000 samples on the water supply to produce maps showing at risk areas.

The EPA told the Herald that they have issued guidelines for water service authorities to carry out effective testing, as not all testing is suitable for gauging the extent of lead in water.

DCC did not respond to a request for a comment.

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