By Dan Walsh
Over 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. This work continued throughout 2021, with an additional six supplies removed so far this year, benefitting over 660,000 people.
Since 2014, Irish Water has been working in partnership with Wexford 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.
“By building this new infrastructure we have improved drinking water for over 11,000 people and facilitated the removal of the Sow Regional Water Supply Scheme from the EPA’s Remedial Action List.
“Irish Water, working in partnership with Wexford County Council, are progressing works for the delivery of the Gorey Regional Water Supply Scheme. The project provides for a new water treatment plant (WTP) and reservoir at Ballyminaun Hill, upgrades to an existing reservoir at Ballyminaun Hill and associated interconnecting infrastructure. Works are due to be completed by the end of this year. The existing scheme is operating at maximum capacity. This project will increase capacity to the area and facilitate growth and development. This project will benefit businesses and residents of Gorey and the surrounding area through improvement of security of water supply.”
Progress has been made in other projects and programmes including the Wexford Disinfection Programme.
“We’re 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.
“Irish Water is upgrading Water Treatment Plants across Wexford as part of the National Disinfection Programme. This programme has resulted in upgrades and standardisation of disinfection systems at 25 water treatment plants, pumping stations and reservoirs across the county.
To date, upgrades have been completed in Ballindaggin, Boolavogue, Bree, Carrickduff, Castledockrell, Clonroche, Coolgreaney, Davidstown, Vinegar Hill, Killagooley, Edermine, Ballygarron, Kiltealy Ballycrystal, Ballinellard, Newtown, Woodview Drive Adamstown, Monagear-Moin Rua, Camolin, Chestnut Grove, Raheen, Terrarath, Creagh, Glynn and Carrickbyrne Water Treatment Plants.
The report also refers to Irish Water’s lead programme which involves the replacement of lead service connections in the public network. There are an estimated 180,000 lead service connections in Ireland and Irish Water has replaced over 35,000 to date.
Commenting on the report, Eamon Gallen, General Manager of Irish Water, said: “Irish Water acknowledges the report. Overall, in 2020 public water supplies were 99% compliant which is a world class level of compliance with the drinking water regulations. Given the size and scale of the legacy issues and continued need to upgrade plants and the network, Irish Water is delighted to achieve a 99% compliance rate.
“The report is clear, however, that much more remains to be done. The building, repair and upgrading of Irish Water’s water treatment plants, wastewater treatment plants, water and sewer network will require a multi-billion euro investment programme over many years.