Residents across Lifford facing water health risk

And example of the tainted water some residents are experiencing.

RESIDENTS across Lifford are facing a potential health risk after chemical levels four times above the legal limit were discovered in their water supply.

Donegal County Council has written to householders in the town’s Haw estate to tell them that recent tests revealed quadruple the amount of iron allowed by law.

According to the local authority’s assistant senior executive scientist, Dr Joe Ferry, frequent bursts in the cast iron pipes that serve the area over the past month were to blame. He said the bursts had caused sediment disturbance but that these should “settle out again and improve”. Dr Ferry added that a scouring of the mains had also been carried out and that it should help improve the local supply.

“You may wish to seek advice from the HSE with regard to the health implications of persistent consumption of water with these levels of iron,” Dr Ferry said.

However one householder revealed how he has been buying bottled water for the past seven years because the water running from his taps is so affected.

Asking not to be named, the former Strabane man also said he believed the poor quality of tap water was contributing to his ongoing battle with cancer.

“We’ve been on bottled water for the past seven years because you’d know to look at it that what is coming out of the taps isn’t good,” the man said.

“We’re all having the same problems out here and the council knows about it. But they don’t want to know.

“The water is dirty, it’s as simple as that. And Donegal County Council is neglecting to tell the public, which is a scandal in itself.

“My daughter can’t even wash her face or brush her teeth with it.”

The householder revealed he was battling cancer and that he had lost several family members to the illness in recent years. He said he believed there was a link between the number of people falling ill and the local water supply.

“I have cancer myself. Three years ago my partner passed away from cancer. My sister passed away from cancer last year. My mother had cancer a few years before that. I had three uncles die from cancer – and that’s just the people in my family. 

“Donegal is rife with cancer and this is a cancer-bearing drink that we’re supposed to be drinking. It is an absolute disgrace.”

He added that when a council official visited his home recently, they claimed his water “did not look too bad”.

“When I showed him the water in the bath and I asked him would he bathe his children in that – and we’re talking about a water expert here, the top man – he said that he would. That angered me. In this day and age, that’s ridiculous.

“The whole of Lifford is having the same problem. The council knows about it and they’re not fixing it. Donegal County Council has said that this water is usable and drinkable. Does it look drinkable to you?

“The corrosion of the pipes is causing the dirt and the high iron content. They’ve tried to scour the system to make it better but it hasn’t worked. This is all about money because they don’t have the money to fix the pipes – that’s the bottom line. Until the pipes are replaced nothing is going to change. You can’t cleanse corroding pipes.”
These claims were put to Donegal County Council. They passed them on to Irish Water who, in turn, said they were investigating the situation at The Haw. They also apologised for any inconvenience caused.

“Irish Water is aware of an issue with elevated iron levels in some properties in The Haw, Lifford,” said a spokesperson.

“We are working in conjunction with Donegal County Council and the HSE to investigate this and address any water quality issues that exist in this area.

“We are also continuing to monitor the supply and collect any relevant information needed to support the case for additional capital investment as may be required.

“Irish Water apologises for any inconvenience caused by this issue. Customers with queries or concerns should contact the 24/7 customer care line at 1850 278 278.”

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