Poor Monitoring of Private Water Supplies Putting People’s Health At Risk – EPA

  • One fifth of people in Ireland get their drinking water from private water supplies.
  • In 2016, boil water notices were imposed on 126 private water supplies, affecting a population of over 7,000 people.
  • Local authority monitoring and enforcement of private water supplies is not adequate.  Many local authorities did not monitor all supplies in their area or carry out any audits of these supplies during the 2016 reporting period.
  • E. coli testing was not reported at 809 private water supplies serving commercial buildings (hotels, B&Bs, pubs etc.) or public buildings (schools, crèches, campsites etc.).  These supplies are more likely to be contaminated with E. coli.

28 November 2017: A report focusing on the quality of Private Water Supplies in Ireland, released today by the EPA, shows that twenty per cent of the population is supplied with drinking water by private supplies – mainly through group water schemes, or small supplies/wells operated by the owners of buildings and businesses as part of a public or commercial activity.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Mr Gerard O’Leary, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said,
“There were 126 private water supplies, serving over 7,000 people, on boil water notices in 2016.  The safety and security of these supplies must be improved or people are at risk of becoming ill.”

The number of supplies monitored in 2016 remained inadequate with E. coli testing not reported for 809 private water supplies. Where monitoring was carried out it shows that private water supplies – to commercial businesses (hotels, B&Bs, pubs, etc.) or to buildings where the public has access (schools, crèches, campsites, etc.) – are at greater risk of being contaminated.  The report highlights that more than sixty of these supplies were found to be contaminated with human or animal waste at least once during the reporting year.

Concluding, Darragh Page, Programme Manager of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said,
“Local authorities must use their enforcement powers to ensure that action is taken where water quality issues are identified in private supplies.  While there was an increase in enforcement by local authorities in 2016, only nine local authorities carried out audits during the year.”

The report is available on the EPA website.

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