Contamination In Ireland’s Private Water Supplies

private water

Contamination In Ireland’s Private Water Supplies

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) newest report on drinking water says there is “urgent action needed” to improve Ireland’s private water supplies. This comes after finding bacteria and toxic chemicals which can harm human health.


The Types of Drinking Water Supplies

In Ireland, drinking water can come from either public or private sources:

Public water supplies. Managed by Uisce Éireann. These supplies are treated and distributed according to the Drinking Water Regulations, overseen by the EPA.

Public Group Schemes. Community-managed systems. Uisce Éireann handles water abstraction and treatment.

Private Group Water Schemes.  Community-managed systems. The community manages all aspects from abstraction to distribution. These schemes typically rely on springs or wells.

Small Private Supplies. Used for commercial or public activities (e.g. hotels and schools).  Managed by the property owner, often supplied by wells.

Private Wells. Mainly in rural areas. Managed by individual homeowners. 


Private Water Supplies Go To Who?

The EPA’s report is worrying as it has brought to light issues affecting private water supplies across Ireland. A lot of people have access to this kind of water: 

  • ~200,000 people in rural communities use drinking water provided by private group water schemes 
  • Public activities (e.g. schools, creches, nursing homes, pubs and restaurants) often have their own small private water supplies or wells.


The Problems With Ireland’s Private Drinking Water

Neglected Registration. A big concern is the lack of registration of private water supplies. Many suppliers are failing to register their sources. This makes it very hard to determine the full extent of the risk to public health. 

Monitoring Shortcomings. There are also gaps in monitoring coverage of registered water supplies. Up to 16% of small private supplies are not being monitored. This means that potential contaminants may go undetected.

E.Coli Standards. Disturbingly, the presence of E. coli has been detected in numerous group schemes. This is likely due to no or poor water disinfection practices. Bacteria in water puts the health of the Irish people at risk. 

Trihalomethane (THM) Contamination. Trihalomethanes (THMs), by-products of chlorine disinfection, were also found to exceed standards in some private group schemes, affecting thousands of individuals. In the last few years, studies suggest that THMs can be very dangerous to human health. 


How to Improve The Water Quality

Mandatory Registration. The EPA says we need to legally enforce the registration of all private water supplies. This crucial step would promote better supervision of these supplies and help to identify dangerous quality concerns. 

Enhanced Water Monitoring. Private water group schemes need to make sure they are consistently monitoring water supplies and dealing with any issues immediately. These proactive measures and interventions are important to guarantee that all private water supplies meet required standards.


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Recommendations by the EPA to protect your well


Conclusion on Improving Water Quality

This EPA report is a wake-up call and shows the urgent need for action to improve private water quality. The health of many communities is at stake. By taking proactive steps now – like water monitoring – we can provide access to safe drinking water for all of Ireland. 

Here at Southern Scientific Services, we offer important water monitoring solutions. By using advanced technologies, data analysis and customised monitoring plans, we can help solve Ireland’s issue of poor water quality.


For information on how Southern Scientific Services can help you improve the quality of your private water supply, get in touch with our team of experts today!



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