Westmeath County Council remains confident at all times of the high quality of its water supplies, according to county manager Dan McLoughlin.
The manager was responding to concerns raised by a number of councillors at Monday’s meeting of Westmeath County Council regarding the safety of the county’s drinking water.
“This is a national issue, and a number of local authorities have been mentioned regarding public water supplies coming through lead pipes. What is the situation in Westmeath?” asked Mullingar’s Cllr Mick Dollard, referring to news that excessive lead levels had interrupted Galway City’s water supplies in recent weeks.
“I am conscious there is great fear in the country, and I am also conscious we have spent €11 million on a filtering system and spend €2 million a year on maintenance,” noted Cllr Dan McCarthy. “In an EPA survey carried out recently, Westmeath was the only county whose water supply was described as “excellent”. We need to be assured that there is continuous monitoring of water, especially regarding the lead aspect. I am suggesting we get a periodic report regarding Westmeath’s water supply.”
Cllr Frank McDermott added that he was particularly anxious in light of the fact that a certain element of lead piping remains in some of Westmeath’s towns.
The councillors’ comments follow the release of a statement earlier this week by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA ), which found that over 99 per cent of samples across the country were found to be compliant with the lead standard. The statement also noted that since the introduction of the Drinking Water Regulations in March 2007, 11 local authorities have notified the EPA of excessive levels of lead, and four of these supplies required restriction. These were in Galway City, Ballintra in Donegal, Bruff in Limerick, and Mallow, Co Cork.
However Mr McLoughlin assured councillors that although a certain amount of lead piping remains in Westmeath’s larger towns, as in all counties, water supplies are monitored on a regular basis. “Members are welcome to have a copy of the results that are forwarded monthly to the EPA. I am confident at all times of the high quality of Westmeath’s water,” he said.