THERE are fears the water crisis on Limerick’s northside could spread across the city after residents of a second estate were told their supply is not safe to drink.
Residents in around 400 homes in Kileely are facing months of disruption after they were told, as a precaution, not to drink their supply due to fears of the presence of lead.
It comes just a fortnight after residents in Ballynanty were told their water was not safe to drink - and local councillor Maurice Quinlivan now thinks there “must be” lead in the supplies in other estates.
He wants Irish Water to carry out an urgent audit.
In a letter to householders, Katherine Walshe, regional operations boss, Irish Water, said: “Following consultation between Irish Water, City and County Council and the HSE, it is considered probable that houses in Kileely would be affected by similar lead issues to Ballynanty. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, you are advised that it is wise to act as if the water at your tap has elevated levels of lead.”
Householders should not drink water, or use it for preparing food or diluted drinks. But it can be used for toilet flushing, bathing, showering, laundry and dishwashing.
There has been further criticism of Irish Water, with Cllr Quinlivan accusing the state body of “contempt”, and Cllr Cian Prendiville reiterating his call for resistance to water charges.
As soon as the news of the lead problems broke, the St Munchin’s Community Centre sprang into action, delivering water to houses in the area, while a standpipe has been set up outside the building.
As the centre is less than ten years old, its supply has been certified safe, unlike the many homes in Kileely which are using lead pipes.
“So far, we have about 200 containers given out. But we have had people coming in with cups, Coca-Cola bottles, empty water bottles, everything,” confirmed Linda Ledger, centre manager.
Kevin McNamara, Hennessy Avenue, said there is real fear in the estate.
“In the first street I visited, there are two women who are six and seven months pregnant, and on the front of the leaflet, in big black writing, it states the HSE emphasies pregnant women and young people in particular should not drink the water. I think it might be too late for them,” he said.
Cllr Quinlivan added: “People are very angry. I just spoke to a women there who had only just finished a cup of tea. She is ripping about what is going on.
“If there is lead in the water in Kileely, there must be lead in the adjacent estates as well. I would encourage Irish Warer to publish a list of estates affected by this, test the water supplies, repair, and get replacing these pipes.”
Cllr Prendiville added: “Lead pipes have not simply arrived in the last week, people have been drinking this water for years, and the council and government knew they were there, but did nothing until it became a crisis.”
Irish Water, for its part, has said it is accelerating a programme of works to deal with the remaining lead pipes, and further details will be available shortly.