Risk of Gastrointestinal illness from water contamination increases as Local Authorities fail to monitor over 25% of private water supplies for E.Coli.
The presence of E-Coli bacteria in drinking water indicates that the supply has been contaminated and the water has not been fully disinfected. Water sources must be protected as drinking contaminated water can cause serious gastrointestinal illness.
Meeting E.Coli standards is a basic requirement in the provision of safe drinking water. In 2021, 1 in 20 private supplies were found to have E. Coli contamination indicating that the water supply had not been property disinfected. The failure of these disinfectant systems put the health of approximately 6,000 people that use these drinking water supplies throughout the country at risk.
The Employment Protection Agency produced a report in 2021 about drinking water quality in Ireland in which they stated that urgent action is needed to curb Nitrogen pollution in Ireland’s waters. The agency confirmed that almost half of our rivers, a quarter of our ground waters and one fifth of our estuarine and coastal water bodies have Nitrogen levels that are too high. High Nitrogen levels above the drinking water standard can pose a risk to human health.
In addition, 21 private group schemes (7%) failed to meet the standard for THM, including 5 schemes that the European Commissions had identified as being of particular concern. Trihalomethanes (THM) are a biproduct of the treatment process and are formed where there is an excess of organic matter in the water source, such as rotting vegetation which then reacts with Chlorine used in the disinfection treatment process. THM levels should be kept as low as possible and in compliance with the drinking water quality standards while ensuring that the water is fully disinfected.
Worryingly in May 2020 the European Commission stated that Ireland had failed to take the measures necessary to ensure THM compliance in 44 drinking water supplies. This included 13 TGs. During 2021 the commission referred Ireland to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
The EPA urged water suppliers to carry out infrastructural upgrades where required to comply with drinking water quality standards and that all Local Authorities must ensure that all private drinking water supplies are registered and monitored and should investigate supplies that fail to meet drinking water quality standards and take the necessary enforcement action.
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