HC Deb 19 February 1998 vol 306 cc772-3W
Mr. Ian Stewart

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to release the report commissioned by his Department on the cost benefit analysis of reducing lead in drinking water. [30917]

Mr. Meacher

This report has now been published and I have arranged for copies to be placed in the Library of the House. This is an interesting study which attempts to cost the health and non-health benefits associated with reducing levels of lead in drinking water to the 25 µg/1 and 10 µg/1 levels required by the new EC Drinking Water Directive.

The report indicates that in some circumstances it is cost-effective to replace lead water pipes, although if the cost of pipe replacement could be reduced the case for action would be clearer. It also concludes that it is cost-effective to introduce water treatment to reduce exposure even when benefits appear to be low.

The report provides a useful input to the debate about the costs and benefits of reducing lead levels in water. However, this is a difficult area and further work will be necessary on the assumptions and approaches used.