Irish water quality up, remote problem spots remain

Ireland's drinking water quality improved in 2004-5 with an average of 96.7% up to prescribed standards, and problem areas largely limited to sparsely populated areas, according to the latest government report.

Most of Ireland’s population had access to drinking water of a very high quality, but the 5% served by “group schemes” sourcing water from rivers, lakes and boreholes often suffered the consequences of inadequate or non-existent treatment facilities, said Ireland’s environment minister Dick Roche.

“The report confirms the exceptionally high quality of our public water supplies with major population centres such as Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway having a compliance rate of 99.8% with prescribed standards,” he said.

Concern over group water schemes led the government to introduce tougher regulations for group water schemes, he said.

“The Water Services Bill 2003, which is expected to be enacted shortly, will introduce a licensing system for group water scheme supplies, under local authority supervision.”

The Bill amends the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992, and will give Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency the powers to supervise the way local authorities administer local group water schemes.

He also urged water authorities to properly monitor group water schemes. “There was insufficient monitoring of group water schemes by some local authorities in 2005.

“This is in stark contrast to the excellent progress the same authorities are making with the installation of water treatment equipment that will bring problem groups, mainly those with inadequate private sources, up to the required standards for drinking water,” he said.

The Water Services Bill is expected soon, but existing Drinking Water Regulations will be strengthened as a temporary measure before it comes into force.

Goska Romanowicz

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