Private wells warning, as E.coli threat highlighted

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has expressed concern about the quality of water supplies at private wells, following the doubling in detection rates of a particularly dangerous form of E.coli.

The director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement, Gerard O’Leary, has urged the owners of private water supplies to check their water sources to ensure they are adequately protected and the water is disinfected. He said drinking water from private supplies is inferior to that of public supplies.

There are currently 30 supplies on boil-water notices countrywide, with 15,443 people in Roscommon affected, a figure described by EPA as “unacceptable”. There are 140 water supplies on an EPA action list requiring upgrading of their water quality to ensure better compliance with EU water standards. E.coli is an indicator of faecal matter in the water supply and disinfection kills all E.coli, including the more dangerous strain, VTEC.

“We continue to be concerned about the number of VTEC cases. Any form of E.coli is an indicator of faecal matter in the water supply, and VTEC can have serious consequences,” said Mr O’Leary. The report shows... local authorities have reduced the number of E.coli exceedences in public supplies by 92% since 2005. The results show progress, but the results also show that Irish Water, the new state utility, has a lot of work to do.”

The EPA’s Drinking Water Report for last year shows public water supplies serving 82% of the population have improved since the agency created an action list over five years ago. There were 339 public water supplies needing remedial action when the list was first compiled, now there are 140. Remedial works on a further 70 are due to be completed by year’s end.


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