The drinking water supply of a house in Taylor’s Hill has been discovered to have excess levels of lead and last evening the Mayor of Galway Padraig Conneely expressed fears that the lead contamination problem may now be more widespread than was feared.
However City Hall said the public should not be alarmed by an individual case, and that only when its widespread water tests are completed will an accurate picture emerge of the true extent of the problem.
Galway was rocked last week when it emerged that the water supply in Old Mervue was contaminated by high lead levels and that lead exceedences had been discovered in Shantalla, Bohermore, and Mervue.
The Galway City Council stressed the problem was centred in Old Mervue and outlined precautionary measures for the rest of the city to take. However there was still widespread concern about the safety of drinking water throughout the city - given that this latest crisis comes a year on from the end of the cryptosporidium episode.
One household in Taylor’s Hill took a sample of drinking water from their own taps and sent it to the public analyst at University Hospital Galway. Tests were carried out and the household were informed on Wednesday morning that lead levels well in excess of those permitted were discovered. The family were advised to cease drinking the tap water immediately.
Mayor Padraig Conneely said the news was “very disturbing”.
“We have been working on the basis that the problem is only confined to specific areas but this incident suggests it may be more serious than we think,” he told the Galway Advertiser. “We need to take a root and branch approach to find out where the problem is coming from.”
However City Hall said people should not jump to the conclusion that because one house is affected in Taylor’s Hill this means the whole area has leaded water.
“From the outset the Galway City Council has said there may be individual cases and exceptions in other parts of the city because of pre-1970 houses,” a spokesperson for City Hall said. “That is why we are carrying out water testing throughout the city.”
The council is carrying out tests to assess the level of lead that may be present in the city’s drinking water system. The water testing regime for Old Mervue will sample on average one in every two houses per road. The water-testing regime for the rest of the city in the affected areas will sample on average one in 30 houses.
Mayor Conneely said a case such as Taylor’s Hill should make the council think about narrowing the rate of the tests. “Is one in 30 houses too wide?” he asked. “What if it’s not in the house you test but in the one beside it?”
He is calling on the council, the HSE, and the Environmental Protection Agency to “come up with solutions and assurances” to the current crisis.
City Hall said its testing regime is important and will help ensure the best course of action is taken to deal fully with the problem.
“Once we have the carried out the tests and have a fuller picture of what is going on we will sit down with the HSE and the EPA and will then know the best course of action to take,” said the council spokesperson. “No conclusions should be drawn about any individual house.”