Water Contamination Update: Galway City and parts of Galway County

22 March 2007

In response to the increasing number of people becoming ill as a result of the bug 'Cryptosporidiosis' and on the advice of the Health Service Executive West, Galway City and County Council issued a 'Boil Water' notice on Thursday 15th March 2007.

Since then, all three agencies have worked closely to deal with the risk and have established an Incident Response Team.  The Team includes environmental and water services professionals, veterinary expertise, scientist, public and environmental health professionals, with advice from the Environmental Protection Agency and Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

Since last week, both the City and County increased their sampling of the water for Cryptosporidium. Results received last night indicate contamination of the public water supply in some of the affected area.  New cases of Cryptosporidiosis continue to be notified in the area with the cases numbering 60 in 2007 to date.  A small number of these cases required hospitalisation.

Boiling is the best extra measure to ensure that your water is free of cryptosporidium and other germs. Until now, we were advising boiling water as a precaution, it is now essential that people in the affected areas continue to boil water intended for drinking or food preparation.  If you are unsure of the source of your water supply, it is advised to boil your water as a precautionary measure.

For the advice of the public, water should not be used un-boiled for:

Water can be used for personal hygiene, bathing and flushing of toilets but not for brushing teeth or gargling

Boil water and allow to cool.  Cover and store in a refrigerator or cold place.  Water from the hot tap is not safe to drink.  Domestic water filters will not render water safe to drink.

Discard ice cubes in fridges and freezers and filtered water in fridges.  Make ice from cooled boiled water.

Use water prepared for drinking when preparing foods that will not be cooked (e.g. washing salads, fruit and vegetables to be consumed uncooked)

Prepare baby feeds with water that has been brought to the boil once and cooled.  Do not use water that has been reboiled several times.  Do not use bottled mineral water as most brands contain concentrations of minerals that are too high for babies.

Anyone suffering from diarrhoea for more than two days should contact their general practitioner and provide a stool sample for testing.  They should continue to drink plenty of boiled or bottled water.

From the health perspective, the HSE is continuing to investigate other possible sources of the infection, communicating with health professionals including GPs, health facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes and with food premises. 

From the local authority's perspective, they have significantly increased their sampling regime with continuous testing for the Cryptosporidium.  They have conducted aerial surveys and fieldwork (including site inspections) to try to establish a possible source of contamination, conducted a leaflet drop, updated the web sites with relevant information and established a phone-in helpline.

In addition, both the City and County Councils are examining all measures that can be put in place to ensure the quality of the water supply and to protect the integrity of the water sources.

We would like to thank the public for their co-operation in this matter and we would stress the importance of continuing to boil the water.

The 'Boil Water' notice will be lifted when:

  1. There is a marked decline in notifications of human disease
  2. There are consistently low levels of cryptosporidium in the treated public water supply, which will assure an effective treatment system to remove cryptosporidium from the water.

Galway City Council, Galway County Council & HSE West will continue to work together to manage this incident.

Boil Water Notice Map

The attached notice outlines the areas affected.
A map of the affected area is also provided  

Cryptosporidiosis factsheet (from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre)

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Galway City Council, City Hall, College Road, Galway.
Open: 9am - 4pm. Phone +353 91 536400 Fax: +353 91 567493 Email: enquiries@galwaycity.ie