The Mayor of Galway has described an action plan to deal with the latest problems with the city's water supply as 'pathetic'.

A special meeting to discuss the latest problems with the water supply in the city has ended after almost five hours.

During the meeting, councillors heard about plans to resolve lead contamination in four areas of the city.

Padráig Conneely told the meeting that he had no confidence in the City Manager and the Council's Director of Services.

He said the way the authorities had dealt with lead contamination in the water supply was not acceptable.

He said city management was trying to spread the blame for the contamination of the water supply with excessive lead content.

But, he said, that blame lay squarely with those responsible for water services at Galway City Council.

Cllr Conneely said there was an urgent need for the Minister for the Environment to take action to ensure that there were no further problems.

City Manager Joe McGrath said he was shocked and horrified by the allegations made against his management team at tonight's five-hour meeting.

He said he had always treated the Council with respect and was endeavouring to answer all questions relating to the lead contamination.

He said it was a 'load of nonsense' to suggest that the authorities were operating under a veil of secrecy.

Mr McGrath said the problem with the water supply had been identified because of action by Galway City Council and the HSE.

He said he was trying to provide leadership to solve the latest crisis but that he needed the backing of members to achieve this.

He said the Council was not trying to spread the blame and would not hand over management of the water services to any individual.

Mr McGrath said he accepted that confidence in the water supply had been damaged but stressed that the Council was doing everything it could to solve the problems caused by excessive lead content.

It was agreed that free bottled water will be provided to elderly residents in the affected areas with two-for-one promotions available to other residents in those areas.

Earlier, the Council's Director of Services, Ciaran Hayes, told the meeting that the water in Galway was of the highest quality and that the latest problems stemmed from the use of lead piping in some parts of the city.

He said short, medium and long term solutions were being initiated to address the issue.

In the short term the ph-content of the supply will be increased to see what - if any - impact this has on lead levels.

The council says householders in the affected areas of Old Mervue, Claddagh, Shantalla and Bohermore will be able to purchase bottled water at a reduced rate (of two for the price of one) from this weekend.

In the longer term, officials say replacement of lead pipe network in the Old Mervue area could take up to two years.

A number of residents from the four areas hit by the contamination tried to ask questions but were told they were not permitted to do so in the Council chamber.

Assurances not trusted

Earlier, residents said they did not trust assurances given to them by the local authority about their water supply.

Since last Tuesday, thousands of householders in four areas of Galway have been buying bottled water because of the lead pollution scare.

The city has provided on-street supplies for people in Old Mervue, but it has been accused of discriminating against residents in other parts of the city by failing to provide similar measures.

Residents in the Shantalla area have been told the water is safe to drink, if taps are run for several minutes, however, they say they do not trust these assurances.

The council has issued similar guidelines to people in the other areas hit by the contamination.