WINNER FIE 1998 NATIONAL DETERIORATING WATER QUALITY AWARD:
FOR MORE THAN DOUBLING THE NUMBER OF WATER SCHEMES POLLUTED FROM 40 TO 81 IN A SINGLE YEAR - MANY OF THEM NEW!!! AND THERE WE SINGLE OUT FOR SPECIAL MENTION THE PIG FARMERS OF TIPPERARY - AND THE EPA, WHO ARE THAT INDUSTRY'S LICENSING AUTHORITY.
KERRY, WICKLOW, WEXFORD, MAYO AND MEATH
FOR BOTH INCREASING THEIR EXCEEDENCES FOR BIOLOGICAL CONTAMINATION AND FOR EXCESSIVE CHLORINE TASTES AND ODOURS!!!
WINNER FIE 1998 NATIONAL INCREASE IN EXCEEDENCES IN CHLORINE ODOR AND TASTE:
THE ONLY TOWN IN KERRY - IF NOT IN IRELAND - TO RECORD AN "EARTHY TASTE" IN ITS WATER.
AND DUBLIN CORPORATION'S LEXLIP SUPPLY
THE ONLY WAY TO TACKLE THIS PROBLEM IS TO PROTECT OUR WATER AT SOURCE, CREATING CORDON SANITARES AROUND THE SUPPLIES, CONTROLLING SLURRY SPREADING AND OVER GRAZING AND STOPPING ONE OFF BUILDING IN THE COUNTRYSIDE.
END OF PIPE TREATMENT WITH CHLORINE IS NOT A SOLUTION.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes 1995 report
Finally, the 1996 EPA report 'The Quality of Drinking Water in Ireland' was finally published - in December 1996, nearly fourteen months after the last water sample was tested. The EPA publication is so late this year and we can only conclude that the EPA has been persuaded to withold this report for as long as possible by the Irish government. It could of course simply be the result of the almost legendary incompetence of the EPA.
Environment Watch Ireland have recently concluded their analysis of the Reports from the Environmental Protection Agency entitled 'The Quality of Drinking Water in Ireland'. The following analysis covers the period Dec 31st 1992 to Jan 1st 1997.
These are the most recent and most 'reliable' publications available which summarise the current state of Drinking Water supplies in Ireland. The Environment Watch Ireland analysis and summaries below deal entirely with bacteriological contamination, which is frequently an indication of intensive agriculture or improper planning and siting of domestic dwellings and septic tanks.
EPA 1995 Report Ommissions
There are some serious omissions in all of the EPA reports, including the results from some of Ireland's most contaminated supplies. The 1995 report was particularly incomplete and the 1996 report misses some 24 supplies, mostly for Urban Districts in rural Ireland.
It appears that some County Councils are not providing results to the EPA. County Mayo is the worst offender. It has failed to provide the vast majority of its water test results to the EPA in 1995. Environment Watch Ireland is currently investigating why the EPA results appear to have been 'doctored' by some County Councils to make them look better. It appears that counties like Mayo are only conducting testing every TWO YEARS. Incredible but true.
Despite these attempts to alter the results, the overall summary (when corrected to accomodate the government's omissions) indicates a steady increase in drinking water contamination throughout the country in the three years upto January 1st 1996.
How to read the Results
There are two types of parameter for contamination referred to in the EPA reports: Total Coliforms and Faecal Coliforms. The EU. directive and WHO standards for acceptable levels for both of these parameters is NIL (zero). Both these contaminants are indicators of some form of bacteriological contamination.
Faecal Coliforms (E.coli) prove recent contamination by the faeces of either an animal or a human being and indicate a high risk for the presence of other (possibly deadly) biological contaminants such as streptococci, parasitic organisms etc.
If you want to have the details for your village or area, contact Environment Watch Ireland. We will send you the latest EPA results.
The EPA Comments are 'unreliable propaganda statements'
The comments on water quality in the EPA reports referenced here are completely valueless in general. Even the most illegal and severe E.Coli contaminations are classified by the EPA as "generally satisfactory". The Environmental Protection Agency can no longer be trusted for its independence and has now largely become a 'mouthpiece' for the Irish government in its attempts to talk down the absolute urgency of Ireland's drinking water crisis.
EPA is just a Government 'mouthpeice' - Environment Watch Ireland complains to European Commission
Despite this, we would however like to acknowledge the help of certain co-operative staff members of the EPA for their help in compiling this Web page.
Motto: "The EPA says what the Irish Government wants us to believe"
Highlights during 1992-1999:
45% of all State supplies showed bacterial contamination in 1998, 40% of group Water Schemes showed bacterial contamination in 1998
Bacterial water contamination is now increasing at a rate of around 9.5% per annum in Ireland, based on the last 6 years EPA results
95.6 % of County Council and other Water Authorities in Ireland experienced contamination by E.coli.
100% of Group Water Schemes in Ireland is or has been effected by bacteriological contamination (Coliform or E.coli indications).
E.coli contamination for both Group Water Schemes and Local authority Water supplies range in severity from 1 coliform / 100ml to > 100,000 coliforms /100ml in the last 6 years
A majority of incidents of bacteriological contamination were serious, ranging from 20 to 500 coliforms /100mls water
Summary E.coli/coliform Irish Drinking Water Contamination 1992-1999
Note 1: Almost every single County Council in Ireland (including Fifty (50) sanitary authorities) had incidents of contamination of their drinking water supplies by coliforms including E.coli during 1993, 1994 and 1995. (Ref. Table A1.3, page 34 of the referenced EPA reports).
There were 4582 tests showing illegal levels of bacteriological contamination. This contamination occurred in 47 out of the 50 participating local authorities (not including Group Water Schemes).
During the 3 year period, ALL Group Water Schemes (and all private water sources) showed contamination, indicated by Coliform/E.Coli counts over EU and WHO limits.
Note 2: During the period, 585 Group Water Schemes were examined in 19 Counties in Ireland. Some 3265 water samples were tested for E.coli. Of these 3265 tests, some 1455 samples showed coliform (total and E.Coli) contamination in contradiction to the EU. and WHO MAC limit for coliforms (zero). (Ref. Table A1.3, page 34 of the referenced EPA reports1).
Note 3: The distribution of contamination across the 3265 tests carried out indicate that most incidents of contamination of Group Water Schemes had levels of contamination between 20 and 500 coliforms /100ml. 78% of all contamination incidents were contamination by more than 20 coliforms /100 mls. There were 1129 water tests producing these results from 1455 contaminated samples. (Ref. Table A1.3, page 34 of the referenced EPA reports 1).
Note 4: Public supply contamination incidence is generally lower than Group Water Scheme contamination because of extreme use of disinfection techniques. However, exceedances over EU. and WHO legal limits for Chlorine, Fluorine and Aluminium in public supplies is also proportionately higher since the incoming water sources to public supplies are grossly contaminated by E.Coli. and other bacteriological pathogens.
Despite disinfection, many public supplies remain grossly contaminated (Note 1)
The Environmental Protection Agency uses figures based on the number of samples taken to determine the quality of Irish drinking water. FIE chooses another approach because the number of samples can vary so widely - a Dublin supply may be checked 200 times a year while a Kerry Group Scheme may only be checked once or twice a year. Even so, the EPA's method of sampling water when reduced to percentages shows overall there is no meaningful improvement in the quality of Irish drinking water in spite of an EU standard that came into force in 1985. The mean percentage rate for coliforms exceedences (number of analysis against number of exceedences) was lower in 1995 and 1996 than at any times since, including 1998.
FIE believes that every water scheme in Ireland could be bacteriolgically safe if PREVENTATIVE measures were taken.
Tipperary NR non-comparison of years
The EPA would argue that Tipperary NR can not be compared year on to year on because of the changes in the Group Water Schemes. But FIE is concerned with how many polluted schemes there are in each county. If the number of schemes increase then we are right to highlight the fact that the problem has increasesed.
Of the 40 polluted schemes in 1997, 13 disappeared from the list but 19 - just under half - showed up as polluted again in 1998. Of the 73 new schemes listed in 1998, 37 - just over half - were recorded as exceeding the biological parameters. 24 of the schemes that had been free of contamination in 1997 appear on the 1998 list.
The problem is persistent and widespread and end of pipe treatment is not the solution.
Additional Group Schemes in Kerry
While the 1998 Kerry figures include monitoring for the first time of 28 Group Water Supplies, these do not account for the rise in chlorination as this parameter appears not to have been included. As half of the newly monitored schemes recorded exceedences for biological parameters, the overall figures reflect this welcomed monitoring but do not disguise the fact that even the existing Schemes record disimprovement.
Statistics can be deceiving, and there are many variables involved in compiling and analysing the Irish water quality figures. But no matter how you crunch the drinking water figures, they represent a serious and persistent problem of bacteriological contamination. We believe the problem can only be solved through land use and agricultural controls. Successive governments have relegated groundwater protection to the level of minor additional chores to be considered while devoting their attention and funding to treatment at the end of the pipe.