IRISH Water says it is looking to speed up crucial works on the mains in Kileely to restore a safe drinking supply to the area.
It comes as part of a €6m package to clear the city of lead pipes, and comes amid fears almost 400 residents could have to wait for up to a year for normal services to resume.
Some 356 houses in Kileely were issued with notices this week warning them not to drink the water or use it for preparing food due to the potential of elevated lead levels in the supply.
Instead, they were advised to head to a standpipe to get water, with St Munchin’s Community Centre - which is not on the old lead scheme also stepping in to help.
Irish Water has said that it is shared backyard services - a feature of houses built before the 1960s - that have contributed to the high lead levels.
Now, in a letter to Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell, John Tierney, the managing director of Irish Water, confirmed the contractor will start work dealing with this issue in neighbouring Ballynanty, where 400 householders three weeks ago were warned against consuming water.
On Kileely, he added: “Although works were already planned for this area to commence in January, Irish Water is now examining options to accelerate delivery of a solution in a similar time line to Ballynanty”.
The move is expected to calm fears that residents could wait a year to be able to drink from their taps again, and has been welcomed by Mr O’Donnell, who held discussions with Mr Tierney on Wednesday.
“I would hope now that both estates would be finished at the same time,” he said, “There are a lot of elderly people and young people living in Kileely, and I think it is extremely important Irish Water were aware of the feeling of people on the ground.”
At St Munchin’s Community Centre in Kileely Court this Wednesday, a 900-litre tanker was being filled, and was being readied to take water to people in the most need around the area.
Meanwhile, Linda Ledger, centre manager, will take delivery of 700 five-litre bottles of water from Ishka this Thursday morning.
The Ballyneety firm is providing the water at a heavily discounted rate to the community.
There was severe criticism of the state water utility, with many residents believing the problems to be a “con” to get water meters into people’s houses quicker.
A local councillor, meanwhile, has said that he believes Irish Water’s response to be an “overreaction”
Kileely man Tony Buckley said: “It is disgraceful the way the water board is treating people. They are not answering phones, and giving no-one a statement or interview. It is absolutely incredible. You can understand why people would be afraid. There are a lot of people in Kileely who have different illnesses, and it is contributing factor”.
He fears this is only the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of the problems with water in the city.
Pensioner Helen Kerley, who was born and raised in Creagh Avenue, added: “When God made the world, he made the water, the earth and the animals. Water was always free: it came from the heavens. Why should we be charged for it?”
Fianna Fail councillor Joe Crowley believes the warning issued to residents was an “overreaction”.
“To be honest with you, we have had lead for years. The effect of lead on a person is not actually as bad as it would be if it were lots of other things,” he said, mentioning fluoride.
“There are far more sinister, far worse things”.
He said Irish Water should not have issued notices in Kileely on the basis of a test in one house, as it did.
However, studies have shown lead is highly toxic to the heart, bones, intestines, and reproductive and nervous systems. It is toxic to children and can cause permanent behavioural and learning disorders.