Ireland's drinking water supply to reach EU standards by 2020

Public supplies were 99% compliant in 2017.

A new report has found that Ireland’s drinking water supplies will finally be in line with EU standards by 2020 – 16 years after the deadline for compliance.

The Environmental Protection Agency drinking water report found that public supplies were 99% compliant in 2017.

Tests on 883 public drinking water supplies found 99.9% complied with microbiological standards and 99.6% complied with chemical standards during 2017.

Contamination

However, 72 supplies remain at risk of being contaminated with things like E.Coli and other parasites.

Pesticide concentrations are also a concern in an increasing number of plants.

“Irish Water plans to have all public drinking water supplies compliant with existing EU public health standards by the end of 2020,” said Gerard O’Leary, director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement.

“These standards came into force 16 years ago.  There are currently 72 supplies where infrastructure is needed to achieve this goal.

The EPA also highlighted the areas of the country facing Boil Water Notices – with some 12,723 people affected.

Public water security

The report calls for major investment by Irish Water in improving the security of public water supplies in order to comply with health standards and avoid further water restrictions.

“One of Irish Water’s key goals is that the same standard of service to consumers for water and wastewater will apply no matter where you live in the country,” said Irish Water general manager Eamon Gallen.

“This is challenging given the varying condition of our water treatment plants and the level of work that is required."

Irish Water has insisted it is working to address the issue of chlorine by-products in drinking water through treatment upgrades.

Later this year, the utility will write to individual households outlining the background to the issue and its plans for addressing it.

Meanwhile, a planning application has been lodged for a new plant to tackle water restrictions on the Lough Talt Scheme affecting over 10,000 people, mainly in west Sligo.