13/05/2015

Labour Calls For Grant-Aided Scheme For Water Pipe Replacement

A grant-aided scheme should be established to fund the removal of harmful piping from the public water supply, Labour has said.

Deputy Sean Kenny made the call in the Dáil, during a Topical Issue Debate.

"It has been stated that forty-two public water supplies in Ireland tested in the latest Environmental Protection Agency inspections had lead levels that exceeded safety thresholds that came into effect in December last year; Dublin city alone was known to have several thousand homes still with internal lead pipes and that situation is replicated across the country," Deputy Kenny said.

"A public health specialist Dr Anthony Breslin has recently said that the full impact of lead exposure was serious and could cause neurological disease, he urged householders who had any doubts to have their pipes checked. He also said that public awareness about the dangers of lead was high when it began to be removed from paint and petrol, but in the 20 to 30 years since, people may have become complacent."

"I am told that Irish Water is currently liaising with the Environmental Protection Agency to finalise a national strategy to address the issue of lead water pipes. Irish Water has also said property owners are responsible for the water distribution on their own properties, including all domestic internal plumbing.

"But unlike Scotland, for example, where there are grants for private householders to replace their pipes with plastic or other alternatives, there are no such grant incentives here.

"I believe that a grant-aided scheme to remove harmful lead pipes from the drinking water supply could provide jobs as well as eliminate a public health risk and I am pleased that Minister Kathleen Lynch has said that the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government is developing a strategy with the Department of Health, Irish Water, the HSE and the EPA, to address the issue of lead in drinking water, and will be published by mid-June."

(MH/CD)

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