Irish Water’s public supplies on course to meet Brussels' standards by 2020

All the Irish Republic’s public water supplies should meet EU standards by 2020, some 16 years after the original deadline for compliance.

That’s the expectation of the state’s drinking water quality regulator, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has just published its Drinking Water Report 2017.

Monitoring of public drinking water last year showed that 99.9 per cent of samples complied with the microbiological standards and 99.6 per cent of samples met the chemical standards.

However, the EPA has highlighted that a total of 72 supplies are designated as “at risk” and are on the agency’s so-called ‘remedial list’. Some 52 of these supplies have elevated levels of trihalomethanes while a further 17 lack adequate treatment to prevent cryptosporidiosis. Irish Water is expected to complete remedial works for 38 of these supplies by the end of this year.

During 2017 Irish Water had to issue 42 boil water notices and restrict the use of some supplies which affected nearly 22,000 people in 17 counties. E.Coli was detected at least once in 11 supplies compared to 3 in the previous year, bucking a downward trend. Trihalomethane limits were exceeded in 42 supplies, down on the 59 reported in 2016.

Commenting on the report, 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. Continued investment will be required to achieve compliance with current public health standards and new standards expected to be in place by 2020.”