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Drink up

There are 87 'at-risk' drinking water supplies in Ireland

58 have elevated levels of trihalomethanes and 25 lack adequate treatment to prevent cryptosporidium.

THE VAST MAJORITY of Ireland’s drinking water is clean – but 87 sites are listed as “at-risk”.

That is according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) latest report on the state of the nation’s water supplies.

The report says that there are 87 sites in need of remedial action from Irish Water. Of these, 58 have elevated levels of trihalomethanes (THMs). These are chemicals produced by a reaction between using chlorine to disinfect water and natural organic matter. At high levels, they have been associated with certain cancers and reproductive problems.

A further 25 lack adequate treatment to prevent cryptosporidium entering the water supply. Cryptosporidium can cause a respiratory and gastrointestinal illness.

Darragh Page, Senior Drinking Water Inspector at the Office of Environmental Enforcement, said that keeping the nation’s water supply clean was a challenge.

“While the incidence of E. coli in public water supplies continues to decrease, the current challenge is to reduce the levels of other pollutants in public water supplies across the country, particularly THM, and pesticides.

“The number of supplies reporting THM failures remains high, and a consistent national approach must be adopted to ensure that pesticides are prevented from entering our drinking water sources.

“We have also identified 25 supplies that require adequate treatment to prevent cryptosporidium entering the water supply.”

Kerry, Cork and Donegal account for almost half of the at-risk supplies identified by the EPA.

The report shows that in 2008 there were 339 public water supplies (around 36% of the supply) considered at-risk. That figure has decreased to 87 today. Of those, four are undergoing testing to see if they can be removed from the list, 53 are due to be remediated this year and 17 next year. All sites are due to be cleaned up by 2020.

3,600 people remain on boil water notices, the vast majority in Ballinlough and Loughglynn, county Roscommon.

Read: Bottle deposit scheme on the way for Scotland, but Irish government says it’s still too expensive

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