Water quality

FIE has found that in spite of an unequivocal statement by the European Commissioner for the Environment that no extension to the slurry spreading season be permitted in Ireland, the Minister for the Environment extended this period into the last two weeks of October. This period saw some of the heaviest rainfall in Irish history, washing the slurry into drinking water sources across Ireland.

Ireland now has the highest rate in Europe of two of the diseases caused by slurry in drinking water, cryptosporidium and STEC [e.coli]. With only token set-backs of 2 metres from our drinking water abstraction bodies, contamination of water supplies by slurry spreading is creating a direct danger to public health and consequent cost to the health service.

The group has written to the European Commissioner and to the Minister for Health, Dr. James O'Reilly.

With ever increasing production, farmers must be required to use separation or anaerobic digesters on this ‘waste' to reduce the need for slurry spreading and prevent the health risks of contamination of the country's drinking water.

FIE's work on analysing the failure by Local Authorities to provide clean and wholesome drinking water has shown that 1,153,732 people are receiving water that is seriously and persistently over the legal parameters. These supplies have been placed by the EPA on the Remedial Action List which the law requires the public to be notified - but there has been virtually no public notification whatsoever. And the Remedial Action List only reveals public supplies in need of urgent action. No mention is made of private or public group water schemes which cover a further 500,000 people and are generally poorer in quality.

Read about this in the Irish Times. |   Read our Press Briefing  |  See the top ten problems, from cryptosporidium to disinfectant by products  |  Read our request to the EPA to remove the password protection from their on-line databases that is concealing then true state of our drinking water from the public. Contact us if you want to know about the water quality in your area. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Friends of the Irish Environment said the proposal risk based inspection programme for septic tanks would not meet the terms of the European judgment.

‘The model used in County Cavan which was specifically singled out as satisfactory in the Judgment of the European Court requires that all septic tanks are registered and inspected at periodic intervals. The Government's proposal does not meet that standard and so risks further infringement proceedings, as well as leaving the environment at risk from the estimated one-third of the 400,000 septic tanks across Ireland that are currently polluting the environment.

The omission of a requirement to inspect septic tanks in new dwellings and those being sold is particularly irresponsible.'

The Secretary,
The Environmental Protection Agency,
Johnstown Castle,
Co. Wexford
7 November, 2011

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RE: Water Quality data request under Access to Information on the Environment legislation (Directive 2003/4/EC and its Irish implementing Statutory Instrument No 133 of 2007)

Dear Sirs;

We have received from you after an individual request a disc containing water quality monitoring results from 2008 & 2009 in electronic reusable data format with the data on which your 2011 publication ‘The Provision and Quality of Drinking Water in Ireland 2008 - 2009' was based.

Under the above legislation, we are requesting water monitoring data as reported to you by the Local Authorities/ Sanitary Authorities/ Water Service subsequent to the contents of this disc and containing the data for 2010 and 2011 to date. This is information on the state of the elements of the environment and specifically the state of drinking water in Ireland.

We are requesting this data in electronic format as instant access to contemporary data and water quality monitoring returns from Local Authorities/ Sanitary Authorities/ Water Service as they are made to your organisation in a quarterly (preferably contemporaneous) downloadable / reusable data format.

To address our request we suggest that read access be made available to EDEN and AQUARIUS data which you have detailed to us that you hold on these two on-line accessible databases:


"EDEN (Environmental Data EDEN (Environmental Data Exchange Network) is a web based system hosted on the Exchange Network) internet used by Local Authorities to exchange data between themselves and also make statutory returns to the EPA. Monitoring results for river, lake, drinking and bathing water are exchanged by EDEN."

"Aquarius. Aquarius contains monitoring information for river, lake, drinking and bathing waters."

We are requesting that you remove the password protection from the read only access to these database on your website for the public which would satisfy our request and accord with the provisions of the Aarhus Convention.

This request is not for information in the course of completion or in draft form for any future Report but is environmental information in itself.

If you refuse to provide read access to this data for the public we are making this request for this data as it is made to your organisation in real time (quarterly or contemporaneously) in a downloadable / reusable data format.

Yours etc.,

Tony Lowes


The environmental watchdog Friends of the Irish Environment has called for The EPA to notify consumers of exceedences of World Health Organisation [WHO] chemical standards in public water supplies. 

According to figures released to the group under Access to Information on the Environment, almost 600,000 consumers are receiving water that exceeds the WHO limits for the cancer-causing chemicals known as trihalomethanes [THM].

24 Counties had supplies over the THM limit. 14 Counties had double the limit. The current EPA Remedial Action list has 33 treatment plants due for upgrading because of THM exceedences, with 7 water sources listed for abandonment and 3 plants listed for closure. Some of these have no dates for work and yet no public notices have been issued while the water continues to be consumed.

PRESS RELEASE    | EPA Chemical exceedences spreadsheet by population  |   Chemical Exceedences spreadsheet edited to show THMs only for 598,591 consumers

    Media Coverage

The fact is that 153 Water Supply Zones (WSZ) of the 979 tested (there are 2157 WSZ) exceed the safe WHO limit, providing 598,951 people with this water.  Only the EPA could translate this into 99% compliance and only RTE could not report it when the true figures emerge.