Tackling Lead in Drinking Water

As WaterSafe supports a campaign by the World Health Organisation to highlight the risks from lead in water, Bill Byers, of the Drinking Water Quality Regulator, explains what is being done to address the issue in Scotland:

The Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland (DWQR) is concerned that awareness of the issue of lead in drinking water has fallen away over the years.

It is clear for many consumers that lead is not an issue and there are many who believe it was a problem resolved many years ago.

However, it is generally taken that houses built before 1970 are most likely to have had their water supply originally delivered through lead pipes. The good thing is, that over time, a proportion have had those pipes replaced. For some property owners however, the issue has not gone away and is something they need to think about.  

The DWQR is pursuing an initiative in conjunction with Scotland’s health professional community to raise the profile of this continuing problem and drive a reduction of exposure to lead.

While lead affects us all, the people most at risk are of course babies and children, as it impairs development. Our project looks to identify enablers and strengthen or introduce mechanisms with a range of influencers, stakeholders and consumer groups, to address the importance of removing lead service pipes and plumbing fittings and to drive towards their replacement.

Scottish Water provides the public water supply in Scotland and has responsibility for the part of the service pipe and connection within the street. Supply pipes and any pipes internal to the property are the responsibility of the property owners, or a number of owners where there is a shared supply.

Where Scottish Water encounters lead pipes within its ownership, they automatically replace these with modern materials. The DWQR urges those responsible for properties to remove all lead pipes and fittings from the drinking water supply route to fully address the health issues. Scottish Water will take samples on request from their customers to test for the presence of lead and there is no charge for this service."

Bill Byers, Drinking Water Specialist, DWQR

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