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Wexford people urged to avail of grant to replace lead water pipes

Wexford County Council is encouraging people who have lead water pipes in their homes to avail of a €5,000 grant to replace them, in order to reduce their exposure to the potentially dangerous metal which you cannot taste, smell or see in drinking water.

he Domestic Lead Remediation Grant which was recently increased to cover 100% of approved costs up to €5,000 is no longer means tested and is designed to assist households with the cost of replacing lead pipe within their properties.

Yvonne Kelly, County Liaison Officer for Rural Water is advising people to check their home for lead pipes. Builders and plumbers often used lead for plumbing up to and including the 1970’s. If a property dates from before 1970 and still has the original internal plumbing, it may have lead pipes or fittings.

Residents should find the water pipe where it enters the property and runs to the kitchen tap. Even if the internal plumbing has been upgraded or replaced this may still be a lead pipe.

If you are an Irish Water customer, they are responsible for the service connection pipe outside the boundary. You are responsible for the water pipes on your land and inside the house.

Ms. Kelly explained that the legal limit for lead in drinking water has been reduced over time and is now at the very low level of 10 microgrammes per liter.

She said the grant has been available for the past number of years, but Wexford County Council had very little uptake because the amount was less and it was means tested. “Now there is more money and it’s not tested”.

A grant applicant must provide evidence of lead piping in the form of notification from a water supplier that lead pipes are present, a certificate confirming a level of lead in drinking water above the statutory limit or notification from a registered building profession (not a plumber) advising that there are lead pipes present.

The following types of properties are excluded from the grant scheme – private holiday homes, short-term holiday lets such as caravans and mobile homes, properties operated on a commercial basis and properties owned by the local authority or a housing association.

Fianna Fail councilor Garry Laffan welcomed the initiative and said the local authority needs to get the word out to people. “There are people in the town who don’t realize that there is a grant available. I would definitely see a big uptake.”

Cllr John Hegarty suggested that the Council should target areas of the town which are known to have lead pipes and carry out leaflet drops there.

Cllr Tom Forde asked if there is anything that can be done to persuade landlords of properties with long-term tenants to avail of the grant and was told that it would be up to the tenants themselves to speak to their landlords if they know there are leads pipes on the property.

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