Seven schools in Kilkenny City have been notified that their drinking water contains a level of lead in excess of the safe drinking water limit.
Kilkenny County Council carried out the sampling for lead in drinking water at 20 city schools towards the end of January. When the results were received, lead levels above the permitted safe drinking water limit were detected in seven schools.
Following consultation with the HSE, Kilkenny County Council contacted those schools found to have lead levels exceeding the safety limit. Students have been told not to drink the water, and to instead bring their own in.
A spokesperson for Irish Water has said that the lead issue arises solely from lead plumbing in older, pre-1970s buildings. This can vary from place to place due to different water and different chemistry.
“Where schools are aware that they have lead plumbing, they should consider providing alternative water supplies for drinking, having regard to the latest advice from the health authorities as regards lead in drinking water,” said a statement from Irish Water.
Irish Water is in the process of finalising a national strategy for lead with the HSE and EPA, however, implementation is still some way off. A treatment process of adding orthophosphate, which inhibits the take-up of lead in water, has proven successful in other countries and may be introduced here also.
Irish Water and Kilkenny County Council are to further engage with representatives of the schools and meet them in the coming weeks to address their concerns.