§ Mr. Gordon Prentice
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps he is taking to replace lead water pipes; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Mullin
The new Drinking Water Directive (98/83/EC) tightens the standard for lead in drinking water from its current 50µg/to 25µ/1 by 25 December 2003 and to 10µg/1 by 25 December 2013. Where action is necessary to meet these standards, water companies will first treat water to reduce its ability to dissolve lead from pipes, or will optimise that treatment where it is already in place. Replacement of company lead pipes will be needed where water treatment fails to achieve the standards—mainly soft-water areas. This will become fully apparent only after optimised treatment has been in place for some months. Pipework within the property boundary will remain the responsibility of the property owner. Local authorities have discretionary powers to pay grants to help homeowners to replace lead piping in their properties.