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City’s Poisoned Water Crisis 2007-04-07

Posted by clype in Europe, Health.
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Tens of thousands are at risk as the water supply of Ireland’s third-biggest city, Galway, has been hit by an outbreak of the parasite ‘cryptosporidium‘, with up to 170 people already confirmed to have been hit by a serious stomach bug as a result.

The outbreak has severely affected homes and businesses in Galway — and residents have been warned that the crisis could last for months.

  • Physicians have warned that the parasite could be life threatening, especially to young children, the elderly and people with low immune systems.

Parents’ concerns

Tests found that the city’s water supply contained nearly 60 times the safe limit of cryptosporidium pollution.

  • Residents have already been unable to drink or use water for food preparation for weeks and have complained that no free clean water has been made available by the authorities.

Parents with young families have also expressed real concerns and demanded action.

‘It’s not right; we shouldn’t have to pay for our water when the local supply is polluted,’ said Galway resident Ms.Sarah Doran.

‘I’m spending up to 3 EUR/day on bottled water.

‘If this goes on for nine months, as we’ve been told it could, that’s going to add up.

‘People just won’t be able to afford it.’

  • Galway City Council says that they have been advised by the health authorities that tankers of free water could create further health problems, by increasing the risk of spreading bacteria.

The Mayor of Galway Mr.Niall O’Brolchain, has called on the Irish government to provide more funding to upgrade water treatment services.

However, Environment Minister Mr.Dick Roche said that the government had already made 21 million EUR available for such projects in Galway, but the local council had failed to make use of the money.

‘Warning for years’

Business leaders have also expressed worries over the impact the crisis will have on what is traditionally the beginning of the tourist season in the West of Eire.

One hotelier said it was costing him up to 2 000 EUR/week to provide bottled water for his guests, and he was now being forced to install his own filtration system.

However, Galway GP Mr.Martin Daly warned that filtration was not the answer.

‘The newest water treatment plant we have is 40 years old,’ he said.

‘People have been warning for years about this.

‘Filtration is not the answer; we need to go to the source of the contamination to solve it.’

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