9 June 2015 Go back to News
Approximately 26,000 customers identified as potentially having lead pipes in their properties.
Irish Water has today confirmed that it has identified, through its metering programme, approx. 650 homes in Limerick with a possible lead pipe connection, which is an indicator that the internal plumbing and pipes in these properties could also be made of lead. This could result in the presence of lead in the drinking water. This is the first step in engagement with approximately 26,000 customers identified through the metering programme as potentially having lead pipes in their properties.
Regular intake of even low levels of lead can have small health effects for everyone. The greatest health risk is for babies in the womb, infants and young children. Bottle-fed infants are especially at risk because for the first four to six months all of their food comes from milk-formula, which is made up of drinking water.
Commenting on this Jerry Grant, Head of Asset Management, Irish Water said; “It’s really important that homeowners understand that if they live in a house which was built up to and including the 1970s that they could have lead pipes, resulting in lead in drinking water. There are a number of measures which they can take to eliminate or limit the amount of lead in the drinking water and we are setting those out today.”
Irish Water is responsible for the pipes under the road or paths to the outer edge of the boundary of a property however, homeowners are responsible for the pipe from the outer edge of the property boundary to the building and all the plumbing inside the building.
“Homeowners are responsible for the pipework within their property in the same way as electricity, where homeowners are responsible for the wiring in their own homes. The drinking water produced in Irish Water’s treatment plants and supplied through the public water mains meets the requirements of the Drinking Water Regulations with regard to lead. Following the roll out of the metering programme we have indicators which show that there are lead connections into homes. For this reason we’re urging homeowners to check their pipes and take remedial action if required.”
Later today it is anticipated that the Government will consider a National Lead in Water Mitigation Strategy. In support of this Strategy Irish Water is drafting a detailed Mitigation Plan in collaboration with the HSE and EPA and this will be subject to regulatory approval by the CER. The first stage in this process will be the publication of an Issues Paper next week.
Facts about lead:
- Irish Water’s records currently show there are no lead water mains in Ireland. There are still some lead pipes in the public network, but these are mostly in old shared connections or in the short pipes connecting the (public) water main to the (private) water supply pipes.
- Lead pipes may have been used in water service connections and in inside plumbing in properties built up to and including the 1970s.
- Lead can dissolve into drinking water. This happens when drinking water comes in to contact with lead pipes especially when it is left standing in a pipe for a period of time. Such lead pipes are found mostly in the internal plumbing of properties.
- Lead in drinking water is recognised as a health concern. The limit for lead in drinking water has been reducing over time and is now at a very low level (10ug/L or 10 microgrammes per litre).
Advice for homeowners:
- Check your plumbing for lead.
- Read the HSE Lead in Drinking Water FAQs available at www.hse.ie/water .
- If you choose to replace your lead pipes within your property, Irish Water will replace the public connection if it is made of lead.
- If you are renting, pass this information on to the property owner.
- If you are the owner and are renting or selling this property, pass this information on to the new occupants.
- If in doubt, contact Irish Water (1890 278 278 or 01-7072828. Lines are open 24/7).