Concerns raised over contaminated water

Anne Downie is concerned about the high levels of lead in pipes.
Anne Downie is concerned about the high levels of lead in pipes.

A Bearsden resident has accused Scottish Water of failing to warn residents of the dangers associated with lead water pipes.

Anne and Ron Downie, who have lived in Iain Road, Bearsden, for the past six years, bought a 1958-built Lawrence home in 2009.

The couple, who are both retired, have learnt that they have been slowly poisoning themselves by drinking water laced with lead over the last six years.

Matters only came to light after a neighbour’s pipe burst and following investigations, it transpired that it was a lead supply pipe, which became illegal to install after 1969.

Anne, who suffers from a couple of health conditions, believes that these may have been masking the symptoms of lead poisoning.

The regulatory limit for lead in drinking water is less than 10 microgrammes per litre. In the case of the Downies’ water supply, which was tested by Glasgow City Council’s Scientific Services Division, the reading was a shocking 124 microgrammes per litre - more than 12 times the prescribed maximum concentration.

Anne told the Herald: “When Ron and I decided to get the water checked as a precaution, knowing that there were lead pipes in the area, we were completely shocked by the scale of the reading - we had absolutely no idea it was that bad.

“I drink a lot of water as a result of my health conditions - litres a day sometimes. You hear about all these various campaigns for healthy living and that water is the best thing to drink - not in our case.”

Anne contacted Scottish Water to notify them of the problem and they have arranged to connect the house to a new supply pipe, but only after the Downies dig up their garden to replace the older lead pipes leading into the home, which Scottish water say are the responsibility of the householder.

She also asked the utility company if they would highlight the dangers to their customer in the Bearsden area but claim they are not interested.

A spokeman for Scottish Water said: “Scottish Water’s responsibility is up to the boundary of a customer’s property. We take drinking water supply lead exceedances at customers’ taps very seriously and we have a strategy to continuously improve compliance with the lead standard.

“This strategy includes the removal of any lead pipe on the Scottish Water side when we come across it and advice to customers on what action they should take.”