Older Mountmellick homes still have lead water pipes, but a plea for a Government grant to replace them has been turned down.
Sinn Féin Cllr Stephen Lynch was among a SF delegation to meet Laois County Council last June to highlight water concerns in the town. The raised the detection of lead in some households’ tapwater.
The council agreed to look into doing a pilot project to replace piping, but now say they were refused money from the Dept of the Environment to replace lead pipes from the stopcock to the householders’ tap.
The council has informed householders that may be at risk, that public lead connections will be replaced only after the householder has already replaced pipes on their own private property.
At a recent meeting of Mountmellick town council, Cllr Lynch got the backing of his fellow councillors to continue the campaign.
“Water charges are coming on board, and people’s pockets are tight,” he pointed out.
Chairman Cllr Paddy Bracken said the council replaced lead connections if they were doing roadworks.
“From the mains to the house, if it is a private resident, they have to pay. I would support any effort to elimate those lead connections,” he said.
“I support Cllr Lynch. Most houses that are older, particularly on main street, are connected with lead from the mains. This is a health hazard, I don’t want to be scaremongering but it’s not good,” said Cllr Michael Gormley.
Cllr Bobby Delaney backed the grant call, but added that the general water quality was excellent.
“We in Mountmellick Environment Group recently had the water tested, the results are excellent, it is as good as any water being bought for drinking. The likes of Emmett Terrace, where the houses are 50 or 60 years old, is a concern. If anyone is concerned, they are entitled to get tests done. I’d love to see not a bottle of water bought in a shop,” said Cllr Delaney.
Councillors invited a council water engineer to their October meeting to explain drinking water tests.