There has been a guarded welcome in Galway to the news that €48m is to be spent on tackling the city's and county's water contamination problems.

The Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, said the department will fast track a new treatment plant for Galway city at a cost of €21m.

A further €27m will be provided for increased storage and water conservation measures in the county.

Mr Roche said that in the short term the Terryland water treatment plant, which supplies 30% of the city's requirements, will be phased out and an alternative supply will be delivered from the Tuam system.

Mr Roche also said he will look at providing additional staff to deal with the immediate problems. He said every effort would continue to identify the source or sources of the current outbreak.

Residents are being advised to continue to boil water.

The Mayor of Galway, Councillor Niall Ó Brolcháin said the promise of resources was a 'starting point'.

Councillors excluded

Earlier, the Minister was confronted by Galway councillors who were excluded from an emergency meeting at City Hall in Galway.

Independent Councillor Catherine Connolly and Fine Gael councillor Pádraig Conneely accused him of engaging in 'a political charade' and of playing politics with the health of the people of Galway.

The Minister rejected the claims and said he was in Galway to discuss what he described as 'a very serious problem' and to find solutions to it.

Ms Connolly said she was outraged at being excluded from the meeting as she herself had been seriously ill and had lost a stone in weight as a result of the gastro-intestinal illness which has hit Galway.

Mr Conneely said it was appalling that the Minister had spent the morning with Fianna Fáil election candidates and accused him of coming to Galway to make political capital out of an extremely serious and worrying health crisis.

But the Minister said it was 'very far' from a political charade and he had come to Galway to try to help solve what was a major crisis for the city and county.

He said it had an impact not only families but on tourism industry and he was here to look for solutions.

Yesterday, Minister Roche and Mr Ó Brolcháin engaged in sharp clashes over the controversy.

Mr Roche said he wants to find out why the city did not avail of €21m of Government funding to eliminate the risk of water pollution.

The mayor said rejected claims that he could have done more to avert the crisis.