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'Boil water' notice lifted as Irish cryptosporidium crisis ends

NORTHERN IRELAND'S Water Service lifted a 'boil water' notice from 90,000 people last week after finally bringing a cryptosporidium outbreak in Belfast's water supply under control.

An NIWS spokesman explained that the Eastern Health & Social Services Board put the notice into place in 28,000 homes at the end of August, as the first cryptosporidiosis cases were reported.

'Investigations identified that a water supply conduit had been breached during a housing development, ' he said.

A developer is understood to have directed a septic tank outfall pipe into a brick, 100 year old, water supply conduit, fouling the treated water. The conduit fed directly into the Polegrass Reservoir south west of the city.

Water has now been diverted away from the conduit that the Eastern Health & Social Services Board claims caused the outbreak. The reservoir has also been cleaned.

'Levels of the parasite cryptosporidium in the water supply are back to zero, ' said a NIWS spokesman.

Over 130 people developed cryptosporidiosis as a result of the contamination - a condition that causes diarrhoea and vomiting.

It can be fatal to children or the elderly.

Northern Ireland's minister for regional development Gregory Campbell last week added that a £2.2M replacement ductile iron conduit is under construction to replace the contaminated conduit.

The outbreak is the second to have occurred in Northern Ireland this year.

Campbell said: 'This incident underlines the pressing funding needs of the Water Service.

Between £2.5bn and £3bn is required over the next 20 years to replace out of date infrastructure, meet public health obligations and comply with EU directives.'

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