Human and animal waste found in over 60 private water supplies last year

A report focusing on the quality of private water supplies in Ireland, released today by the EPA, shows that 20% of the population is supplied with drinking water by private supplies.

The number of supplies monitored in 2016 remained inadequate, with E. coli testing not reported for 809 private water supplies - writes

Where monitoring was carried out it shows that private water supplies are at greater risk of being contaminated.

The report highlights that more than sixty of these supplies were found to be contaminated with human or animal waste at least once during the reporting year.

"There were 126 private water supplies, serving over 7,000 people, on boil water notices in 2016. The safety and security of these supplies must be improved or people are at risk of becoming ill," said Gerard O’Leary, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement.

The EPA called for more audits to be carried out.

"Local authorities must use their enforcement powers to ensure that action is taken where water quality issues are identified in private supplies," said Darragh Page, Programme Manager of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement.

"While there was an increase in enforcement by local authorities in 2016, only nine local authorities carried out audits during the year."

Some key findings of the 2016 report on private water supplies:

37 public group water schemes, 20 private group water schemes and 809 small private supplies were not monitored for E. coli during 2016. Of the 809 small private supplies, 130 served hotels, B&Bs, and restaurants/cafés, 73 served schools or childcare centres and 19 served nursing homes;

The percentage of schemes fully compliant with the E. coli standard is as follows: Public group water schemes – 99.8%; Private group water schemes – 96.1%; Small private supplies – 94.8%;

126 boil water notices affecting over 7,000 people were issued to consumers of water in private water supplies;

95 audits of private water supplies were carried out by nine local authorities;

17 directions were issued by five local authorities;

No prosecutions were reported to the EPA.

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