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Whitegate residents receive water from Mounstshanon supply

RESIDENTS in Whitegate affected by an outbreak of cryptosporidium in the Whitegate public water supply have been told that they are now being served by an upgraded Mountshannon water supply network.
The cryptosporidium parasite was found during routine testing of the water supply in Whitegate last week but according to the local authority, they have received no reports of anyone having fallen ill as a result of the contamination.
However, as a result of this detection, Clare County Council has issued a boil notice and this is likely to remain in place for at least another week as continual testing and monitoring of the water takes place.
At a public meeting held in the GAA clubhouse in Whitegate on Tuesday, senior executive engineer Hugh McGrath informed those present that those on the Whitegate public water network are now receiving water from the Mountshannon public network.
He explained the Whitegate water supply “is vulnerable” as the source is subject to contamination from time to time, particularly in periods of heavy rainfall. 
Speaking to The Clare Champion ahead of the meeting Mr McGrath said, “While we are not sure of the source of contamination this time, we have another source in Mountshannon and it makes sense to use it. It is a superior supply from a ground water source and we have had no issue there with water quality in the past. The reason we hadn’t used it was that we didn’t have sufficient yields to supply the two. Coincidentally, we have been working to upgrade the pump there to increase the abstraction of water and until now, we hadn’t been able to do that. It was an opportune time but obviously, it would be preferable if the issue hadn’t happened”.
He advised worried householders and businesses that the pumps have already been upgraded and that water is being supplied from that source for the past week but the boil notice will remain in place until the council is satisfied that the remnants of cryptosporidium have been eliminated. 
The local authority is “happy” that the new pump will produce enough water to cater for both the Mountshannon and Whitegate public supply networks.
“We have stopped using the Whitegate supply and it is our intention not to reuse it. Since the outbreak was detected, the Mountshannon water supply is going through the system to Whitegate but for obvious reasons, we need to keep the boil notice in place until the HSE and ourselves are satisfied,” he explained.
Mr McGrath said, currently, there are still signs of cryptosporidium in the Whitegate system and so the local authority will be carrying out intensive testing of the water supply serving the Whitegate area. He added that although the council has flushed the mains, it remains cautious as some pipe connections may still have traces of the parasite.
Mr McGrath explained the council is confident that the “new supply is very good” and that since the Mountshannon supply has been upgraded, the council is “happier that there is a greater level of storage” there.
“The reservoir has been substantially increased, which is essential for fire fighting and weather events such as frost and flooding that may affect the water supply, so it is now a far greater reserve,” Mr McGrath concluded.
The contamination did not affect any of the Mountshannon supply and the boil notice does not apply to those originally on the Mountsahnnon network. 
For the time being and until further notice by the local authority, all users on the Whitegate public water supply and the associated group schemes of Drumaan East, Williamstown and The Mill should boil water before use.
Cryptosporidium itself is a microscopic parasite found mainly in the faeces of infected humans or animals. Humans are infected when they swallow contaminated water or food, or touch contaminated objects and then touch their mouths before washing their hands.
The symptoms associated with the parasite include diarrhoea that lasts for one to two weeks and this is often accompanied by abdominal cramps, tiredness, nausea, vomiting and low grade fever. People usually develop symptoms one to 12 days after swallowing the parasite and anyone who is concerned is advised to contact their GP.
Abiding by the boil notice means that all water used for drinking, the preparation of salads and similar foods, which are not cooked prior to eating, teeth brushing, and making ice must all be boiled first. Any ice cubes in fridges and freezers and filtered water in fridges should be discarded.
The public is also advised to be careful when bathing small children to ensure that they do not swallow any bath water. In addition, as cryptosporidium can be passed from animals to humans, it is advised to always wash hands after handling any animals (including pets) or after visiting a farm.
The council advise that the water can be used for personal hygiene, bathing and for flushing toilets but should not be used for brushing teeth or gargling. The authority also warns that water from the hot tap is not safe to drink and domestic water filters will not render the water safe to drink.
They further advise that bottled water for the preparation of infant feeds should be boiled once and cooled as some natural mineral water may have a high sodium content. The legal limit for sodium in drinking water is 200mg per litre and parents can check the label on the bottled water to ensure the sodium or Na is not greater than 200mg per litre.
“If it is, then it is advisable to use a different type of bottled water. If no other water is available, then use this water for as short a time as possible. It is important to keep babies hydrated,” the authority explained.

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