Although the use of cast iron and asbestos cement pipes continue to be phased out worldwide, many of the piping systems within the city of Georgetown retain such mains as some of the pipes are over 100 years old. This was revealed during a press conference at the headquarters of the Guyana Water Inc (GWI) on Monday by Well Maintenance Manager Dwayne Shako in response to questions posed by the media.“[We have] no lead; what we have is transmission lines [which] are cast iron, PVC and asbestos cement,” Shako observed.Cast iron pipes can pose health risks as the metal corrodes. Meanwhile, asbestos-related illnesses have led to a series of international lawsuits, especially over cancer and lung problems. Inhalation of the asbestos fibres has led to problems such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Asbestos was used as a popular insulation building material, particularly in the 1950s.GWI Managing Director, Dr Richard Van West-Charles said that there was need for inter-agency collaboration, especially when there were major construction works so as to avoid compromising the integrity of GWI’s piping systems whichGWI Well Maintenance Manager Dwayne Shakoalso include sewerage.“How the heavy equipment goes along the sides of the road, there need to be some collaboration with us because any high pressure on these lines can rupture it and the city can be without water for a good period,” he stressed.Officials of GWI also revealed that during 2019, efforts will be intensified to replace the mains for the safety of consumers in addition to reducing the iron content in water since the body conducted over 12,530 water quality tests in 2018. It was pointed out that the cast iron pipes were susceptible to breakage at any time. Over the years, many Guyanese have been dealing with “reddish” water coming through their taps, which is largely due to heavy iron content. Dr Richard Van West-Charles said as a result of the water quality tests, more water treatment plants would be established across the various regions of the country as was established in Sheet Anchor in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne). Speaking specifically about Georgetown, he said that much of the iron was seen in the water when the mains were being cleaned. Owing to the age of the pipes, there is also high iron content being released as many of them are over 100 years old.GWI said that to avoid iron in ground water, it may have to reach a depth of some 2000 feet. It was further explained that over $600 million was spent on chemicals to make the water potable using imported materials from countries like Canada and China, but GWI went on to say that it will also would to reduce the amount spent on acquiring chemicals in 2019. Also, during this year, the utility will work to acquire and install an Automatic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS) to test for heavy metals in water, and upgrade treatment plant operators.The removal of asbestos must be done with great care owing to its toxic properties. Asbestos removal is a very dangerous and expensive undertaking. Locally, very few companies have the capacity for proper removal of this hazardous substance.