HUNDREDS of Limerick city residents - including pensioners and young parents - are facing further disruption this week after unsafe levels of lead were detected in the public water supply.
Irish Water has advised around 400 households in the Ballynanty area not to drink water from the public supply as lead levels are “above the current statutory limit for lead in drinking water”.
However, water from the public supply can be used for washing and flushing toilets.
The problem primarily affects houses which are connected to the mains by lead pipes, which were installed decades ago.
In response to the detection of increased lead levels, Irish Water says planned works to upgrade the pipes in Ballynanty could now begin as early as this week.
In the meantime, staff from Limerick City and County Council, acting of behalf of Irish Water, have been manning standpipes at three locations in Ballynanty where local residents have been able to fill containers to bring home.
“It’s ridiculous, it’s madness it is. To have to come down and do this to get water, the inconvenience of it,” said Matthew Quinn, 54, of Shanabooley Road, who added that there had been concerns about lead levels in the water for more than a week before residents were advised.
While pensioner Mary Milward from Monabraher Road did not receive a letter from Irish Water she says she still won’t drink the water or even give it to her plants.
“It’s not too bad for me but it’s terrible for people with children who want juice and things,” she said.
Tommy Williams, a volunteers with the Northside Family Resource Centre, says the restrictions have particularly affected elderly people.
He says he and other volunteers have been filling containers of water for those who can’t get to any of the standpipes to get water.
“It’s a big hassle for them because they can’t get to it (the standpipe) and they have nobody to get it (water) for them so we are calling and helping them out,” he said adding that volunteers from the centre have delivered hundreds of bottles of water to elderly people since the restrictions were put in place.
Eddie Cantillon, 46, from Shanabooly Road, has criticised the handling for the crisis by Irish Water.
“They don’t seem to know what they are doing. It’s an essential thing, you have to have water because you can’t make tea, you can’t make coffee and you can’t cook anything, you have to have water all the time,” he said.
A spokesperson for Limerick City and County Council said the restrictions and planned upgrade of the mains are a matter for Irish Water.