A NEW REPORT from the Environmental Protection Agency shows that there are still some challenges remaining when it comes to clean and safe water in Ireland.
It says that Irish Water has a lot of work to do to provide safe and secure drinking water to the public.
Its 2012 report shows that among the challenges are reducing the population on long-term boil water notices, and the provision of up-to-date monitoring results for consumers.
It also aims to address delays to the provision of major water supply projects, and upgrade supplies with no Cryptosporidium barriers.
It wants to ensure that supplies are capable of delivering drinking water during all weather conditions and variations in raw water supply, and eliminate lead pipes from the distribution mains and service lines.
According to the EPA, compliance with E.coli standards has continued to improve, and there has been a 92 per cent reduction in E. coli exceedances in public water supplies since 2005.
It also notes that the number of water supplies requiring improvement and on the EPA Remedial Action List is down from 339 to 140 in five years, while remedial works on a further 70 supplies will be complete by the end of the year.
The EPA said that heavy rainfall in the summer of 2012, as well as sudden changes in raw water quality due to subsequent flooding, “compromised a number of water supplies”.
Though the majority of the country is served by the public water supply, some people get their water from wells. The EPA noted that contaminated private well water can be a source of VTEC (a strain of E coli which may cause severe illness) as water from many private wells is not disinfected.
It said that private supplies are more vulnerable as they are less secure than public water supplies.
Gerard O’Leary, Director of EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said:
The report shows that improved monitoring, management, processes, and disinfection practices by local authorities have reduced the number of E .coli occurrences in public supplies by 92 per cent since 2005.
He said that the results show progress, but “also show that Irish Water, the new state utility, has a lot of work to do to provide safe and secure drinking water to the public”.
He noted that in Roscommon, 15,443 people on public supplies are currently on boil water notices and, overall, 30 supplies across the country are currently on boil water notices or water restrictions.
“These figures are unacceptable,” said O’Leary.
“We continue to be concerned about the number of VTEC cases,” said David Flynn, Programme Manager, Office of Environmental Enforcement. “We would urge the owners of private supplies to check their water sources, and ensure that they are adequately protected and the water is disinfected.”