- 99.5% of water samples taken in 2020 were compliant, meaning public water supplies are safe to drink
- 58 Water Treatment Plants built or upgraded in 2020
- €450m invested in water projects
- Over 100,000 people removed from ‘at risk’ supplies in 2020.
Wednesday, December 15 2021 – 99.5% of samples taken in 2020 across Ireland’s 740 public drinking water supplies are compliant for microbiological and chemical standards producing water that is safe to drink according to the latest Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Drinking Water Report.
The report, published today by the EPA highlights the ongoing progress made by Irish Water in reducing water supplies classed as being at risk by the EPA, with a further 11 supplies removed from the Remedial Action List (RAL) in 2020 benefitting over 100,000 people. This work continued throughout 2021, with an additional six supplies removed so far this year, benefitting over 660,000 people. As a result the population on the RAL reached its lowest ever figure by mid-2021 and Irish Water is continuing with its plans to address all remaining supplies.
Since 2014, Irish Water has been working in partnership with Waterford County Council, to address water quality issues across the county. We have built new drinking water infrastructure in towns and villages across the county, improving water quality and benefitting local communities.
Irish Water have prioritised our investment to improve drinking water quality for residents and businesses across Waterford. Irish Water has carried out essential upgrade works at Ballyhane, Colligan, Croan Upper, Inchinleamy, Lismore, Smoorebeg, Stradbally, Tallow and Ring/Helvick.
Making progress across other projects & programmes:
Waterford Disinfection Programme – Irish Water are investing €65 million to upgrade and standardise disinfection systems across the country. The programme involves over 864 water treatment plants, pumping stations, and reservoirs across the country.
Delivering clean, safe drinking water is our top priority. Disinfection is an important part of the water treatment process. The disinfection progress kills disease-causing organisms in water.
The National Disinfection Programme ensures Waterford will continue to have safe and secure drinking water. We have been working with Waterford County Council to complete a detailed assessment of the water treatment plants in Waterford.
The Waterford programme is now complete. Disinfection systems at 28 plants have been upgraded and standardised. We have also finished operational upgrades to public water supplies and pumping stations.
These sites include: Aglish Cul Rua, Ballyheaphy, Ballymacarbry, Ballysaggart, Camphire, Coolboa Reservoir, Deelish Ballinacourty, Dungarvan, Dunhill Ballynageeragh, Dunhill Cois Cille, Faha, Fews, Garravone, Inchinleamy, Kilbrien, Killenagh (Strancally), Kilrossanty, Ballyduff, Cappoquin, Melleray, Modelligo, Monamon, Monea, Rathgormack, Stradbally, Tallow, Tourneena and Villierstown.
The scale of investment, the level of national planning and the ongoing delivery of projects and programmes by Irish Water is demonstrated in the EPA report.
Key programmes such as the National Disinfection Programme, and the removal of the risk of THMs (Trihalomethanes) and Cryptosporidium in water supplies are ongoing and are vital to ensuring clean, safe drinking water throughout the country. In 2020, Irish Water invested €450m in building or upgrading 58 Water Treatment Plants (WTP) including significant upgrades to the Lough Talt and Staleen WTPs which collectively addressed long running water quality risks for THMs and Cryptosporidium.
Further progress has been made in 2021 with significant upgrades completed at Leixlip Water Treatment Plant, at Stillorgan Reservoir, and at Vartry Water Treatment plant. These works will ensure over 1 million customers will receive a safe and secure supply into the future.
Commenting on the report, Katherine Walshe, Head of Environmental Regulation with Irish Water said: “Irish Water acknowledges the report and the important work the EPA undertakes as the supervisory authority for public water supplies. Overall, in 2020 public water supplies were 99.5% compliant which is a world class level of compliance with the drinking water regulations. Given the size and scale of investment needed to upgrade water treatment plants and the wider water network, Irish Water is very pleased to achieve such a high compliance rate for the Irish public.
“During 2020, we made major investments in new and upgraded plants as well as delivering improvement programmes at our plants to enhance the quality and consistency of supply.
“Our investment continues. We are advancing Drinking Water Safety Plans for all of our larger supplies, with a key emphasis on minimising risks from source to tap. We have engaged extensively and comprehensively with the EPA on this and will prioritise funding towards those schemes at highest risk.
“The report is clear, however, that much more remains to be done to secure water supplies into the future. Irish Water has plans underway to work with Local Authorities and other delivery partners to further enhance our ability to manage public water supplies to the required standards as set out in the Drinking Water Directives. Irish Water have also rolled out critical training to all Local Authorities to ensure alarms and controls are in place and are operationally effective to ensure public health is protected now and into the future.”
Irish Water is also making strong progress in reducing the number of long-term Boil Water Notices in place around the country. Since the establishment of Irish Water, 263 Boil Water Notices have been lifted, benefiting approx. 1.8 million people. Where risks to water quality are identified through rigorous sampling and testing Boil Water Notices are issued in order to safeguard public health. In all instances immediate action is undertaken to address the underlying causes of the issue to enable the lifting of the notice as soon as it safe to do so. In some cases, this may take time as capital investment may be required to address a treatment deficiency. Irish Water has addressed all long-term boil water notices that were in place before it was established, and the average duration of all subsequent notices is decreasing.