The Environmental Protection Agency – The Irish Times warns that public health risks in private drinking water supplies are not being addressed

One in 20 private water supplies in Ireland failed to meet E. coli standards in 2021, while there have been no improvements in recent years with local authorities failing to adequately monitor schemes, according to the EPA report released on Friday.

coli encounter Standards are an essential requirement in providing safe drinking water. In 2021, one in 20 of his supplies was found to have E. coli The report states that the water supply has not been properly disinfected to eliminate bacteria.

The report notes that the failure of these disinfection systems puts the health of nearly 6,000 people who use these drinking water supplies across the country at risk.

In addition, 21 private group schemes (7 per cent) failed to meet the standard for tri-methane (THMs), including five schemes identified by the European Commission as being of particular concern. THM is a by-product of the treatment process and forms when there is an excess of organic matter in the water source.

More than a quarter of small private supplies of E. coli are monitored by local authorities, he adds, with more than 60 percent of government funding available to deal with water quality failures not being used by suppliers.

Drinking water is provided by over 380 collective water schemes to nearly 200,000 people in rural communities in Ireland.

In addition, more than 1,700 small private supplies (including hotels, bars, restaurants, nursing homes and national schools) provide water to nearly 60,000 employees, customers and service users on a daily basis.

“Compliance with drinking water standards in special supplies for E. coli,” said EPA Office of Environmental Enforcement Director Dr. Tom Ryan. And THMs haven’t gotten any better in recent years. It is imperative that work to improve water quality be carried out as quickly as possible to eliminate serious risks to people’s health.”

He said private water suppliers are obligated to ensure that their drinking water is clean and healthy for consumers. “Local authorities should investigate supplies that do not meet drinking water quality standards and, where necessary, pursue enforcement action to protect public health.”

Funding for improvements is available to community water projects and household well owners to improve their supply through the multi-year Rural Water Program. During the 2019-2021 period, no more than 60 percent (36 million euros) of the funding available for infrastructure improvements was made available.

“Water quality in private supplies consistently lags behind public water quality,” said Noel Byrne, program director for the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement. “It is disappointing to see that suppliers have not used 36 million euros of financing to meet infrastructure needs in problematic private supplies,” he said.

He said the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage needed to complete its review of rural drinking water services, with the aim of providing guidance and support to water suppliers and eliminating public health risks.

During 2021, more than a quarter of small private supplies serving food companies, nursing homes, creches, and B&Bs were not spotted. The EPA said that while there are 1,700 small private supplies registered with local authorities, there may be many more that are not.

If the supply is not recorded and monitored, there is no information on the quality of drinking water provided to consumers. “Water suppliers, in coordination with local authorities, should ensure that private supplies are recorded, and that monitoring is carried out in line with regulations,” the report says.

The report is available at epa.ie.

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