Galway’s public water supplies were recorded as having very high water quality compliance levels last year according to the latest information from the EPA.
The Environmental Protection Agency has today released its Drinking Water Quality in Public Supplies Report 2019.
Irish Water is responsible for delivering public water supplies to customers, and the EPA is the monitoring agency which, among other things, checks supplies for microbiological contamination from bacteria such as E. coli and Enterococci, and chemical contaminants such as lead, pesticides, and disinfectant by-products.
Among the 36 public supplies in Galway County, the EPA recorded a 100% compliance level with microbiological controls, and a 99.3% compliance with chemical controls.
There was one boil water notice issued for a public water supply in the county last year, affecting 246 people, and three audits were carried out by the EPA.
Galway City saw a 100% compliance level with both microbiological and chemical controls .
Launching the report, Laura Burke, EPA Director General said “The supply of safe drinking water is of critical importance for our wellbeing and for social and economic prosperity.”
She cautioned that “growing uncertainty” about Irish Water’s delivery of improvements to water treatment plants is undermining confidence in the delivery of a safe supply.
Of the 67 Boil Water notices issued in 2019, 59 were long term notices, requiring people in the affected areas to boil their water for more than 30 days.
The Kilconnell Boil Water notice, lifted last October, was one of just six in the report which was in place for longer than a year, having lasted 14 months due to elevated turbidity in the water.
Two notices alone affected more than 600,000 people, highlighting the vulnerability of water supplies.
Other areas of concern identified by the EPA include high levels of disinfection by products and pesticide failures in water supplies, and a failure to replace lead pipes in the network.
“Disinfection is the most important step in water treatment and makes our water safe by keeping water free of harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites,” said EPA Programme Manager Andy Fanning.
“Lead presents a different problem where the only remedy is to remove the lead pipework.”
“With the reduced programme for removing lead pipes the EPA estimates that it could take Irish Water up to 60 years to remove all public-side lead connections.”
However the report also noted that the number of water supplies on the EPA’s Remedial Action List declined from 63 to 52 last year.