Fianna Fáil Press Office
Cllr Deirdre Heney
Dublin Bay North

14 December 2015

Homeowners paying on the double for clean water – Heney

Fianna Fáil Dublin Bay-North councillor Deirdre Heney has accused Irish Water of forcing families in the Raheny and Clontarf areas to pay twice over for clean water. The two areas are among a list of ‘black spots’ around the country where lead levels are have made the local water supply ‘unsafe for human consumption.’

“The Government led people to believe that the ‘First Fix’ policy could cover pipes that were not up to standard. In reality people will now have to pay twice over for clean water,” added the General Election candidate.

“There was a €5m Lead Remediation Grant scheme in Budget 2016. However, this will be nowhere near enough to cover up to 200,000 families impacted by lead pipes. How can people be expected to pay water charges when they will also have to pay to have their lead pipes replaced? I feel that any grant assistance being provided should not be means tested.

“The vast majority of households estimated to be affected by lead will not be able to avail of any discount in their water bills as the affected pipes are contained within their own property.

“Given that in many cases these homes were originally built by local authorities – surely there is a responsibility on the Government to assist these residents?” asked Cllr Heney.

“The whole issue of lead levels in the water in these areas is a scandal. In some areas the level of lead is six times the accepted level. This is a national disgrace. It is unbelievable and unacceptable that in Ireland in 2015 the water that comes from taps is unfit for human consumption.

“I have spoken to a number of residents in Raheny and Clontarf whose water supply has now been deemed unsafe for human consumption. Boiling the water makes no difference. It cannot be consumed in any form. It’s an extremely distressing situation for many of them, and particularly for those with babies and young children. They are afraid to use the water in their taps for anything – cooking, making bottles or even washing dishes,” the Fianna Fáil Councillor said.

“At the very least, a non-means tested grant must be made available to people whose water is affected by lead piping or Irish Water must reverse its decision not to include lead contamination in its ‘First Fix’ policy. This policy was a central part of the Government’s roll out of water charges. Homeowners were assured that the first fix on their pipes would be provided free of charge. The fact that a water supply that is not fit for human consumption does not qualify a homeowner to access this scheme is disgraceful. It makes a complete mockery of the government’s promise on upgrading the water network.”