THE deadly bug that contaminated tap water supplies in Galway and throughout the country may be caused by the building new houses on unsuitable farmland.
Leading US scientist Richard Martin yesterday said that cryptosporidium could be caused by houses being built on what was once traditional farming land where water is prone to contamination.
Addressing the Engineering Ireland Conference in Athlone, the manager with NSF International USA argued that insufficient waste and water treatment infrastructure generated the outbreak of cryptosporidium.
Extreme weather incidents and geological issues like the condition of the subsoil were also cited as a factor.
"Combined with rapid residential development in previous farming areas, there are more access points for contaminated surface water to reach ground water," he said in Athlone.
However, this was vehemently denied by Galway City Council yesterday who said that all developments had been in compliance with planning regulations.
"Any development, residential or otherwise, has been in line with regulations", said City Council spokesperson Maire Ni Mhullain.
"Our development plan was approved by the Department of the Environment and was built based around the regulations guidelines and the National Development Plan."
Despite this, former Mayor of Galway and Green councillor Niall O Brolchain said it was "quite clear that the cryptosporidium outbreak was caused by overdevelopment".
"There have been many new houses around the city and no adequate sewerage treatment. The planning provided isn't sufficient."
Treacy Hogan and Patricia McDonagh
© Irish Independent