The EPA Drinking Water Report 2017, shows that the quality of drinking water in public supplies remains high, though we must continue to invest in and improve the security of supplies if we are to comply with the drinking water health standards and avoid water restrictions, including Boil Water Notices. Drinking water testing throughout 2017 confirmed a very high level of compliance with microbiological and chemical standards. This indicates that most of our water supplies are safe.
Commenting on the report, Mr Gerard O’Leary, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said,
“Irish Water plans to have all public drinking water supplies compliant with existing EU public health standards by the end of 2020. These standards came into force 16 years ago. There are currently 72 supplies where infrastructure is needed to achieve this goal. Continued investment will be required to achieve compliance with current public health standards and new standards expected to be in place by 2020.”
Darragh Page, Programme Manager, EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement, commented on the downward trend in E. coli contamination in drinking water:
“The incidence of E. coli in public water supplies has been on a downward trend for the past ten years. There was a slight increase in E. coli detections in 2017, serving as a reminder that we need to remain vigilant against E. coli in drinking water. The best way to ensure our drinking water is free of E. coli is by having a robust disinfection system in place with good checks and controls on the treatment process.”
The EPA Drinking Water Report 2017 and the complete list of public water supplies currently on the Remedial Action List (RAL) – including details of the proposed remedial measures and associated timeframes – is available on the EPA website.
Some key findings of the 2017 report on the 883 public water supplies:
- 99.9% of samples comply with microbiological parameters.
- 99.6% of samples comply with chemical parameters.
- More than half of all boil water notices issued in 2017 were short-term notices, in place for less than 30 days.
- 42 boil water notices and a further four water restrictions were in place in 2017, affecting 21,890 people in 17 counties.
- E. coli was detected at least once in 11 supplies, compared to three supplies in 2016.
- Trihalomethanes limits were exceeded in 42 supplies, compared to 59 in 2016.
- 77 supplies were on the EPA’s Remedial Action List (RAL) at the end of 2017. This reduced to 72 supplies by June 2018.
- Nine Directions were issued to Irish Water by the EPA in 2017.
The EPA has identified the following priorities for Irish Water to address on a national level to protect and improve public water supplies:
- Prevention of long term boil water notices by providing robust disinfection systems;
- Minimising harmful disinfection by-products such as Trihalomethanes (THM) by providing treatment that adequately removes organic matter in the water (THM pre-cursors);
- Eliminating lead from our drinking water networks;
- Preventing pesticides from entering our drinking water sources;
- Managing risks to our public water supplies by adopting Drinking Water Safety Plans for all supplies;
- Progressing action programmes for all Remedial Action List (RAL) schemes