18 Aug 2022

Improved Donegal drinking water supplies, but work still needed

Glenties, Ardara and Ballymagroarty remain on remedial action list

Improved Donegal drinking water supplies, but work still needed

The latest Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Drinking Water Report was published today

At the end of 2020, the Glenties-Ardara water supply serving a population of 3,536 and the Ballymagroarty water supply serving a population of 756 remained on the Irish Water Remedial Action List.

Both have elevated levels of Trihalomethanes (THMs) above the standard in the Drinking Water Regulations, according to the EPA Drinking Water Quality in Public Supplies Report 2020, issued today.

THMs are a reaction between the chlorine used for disinfecting tap water and natural organic matter in the water, which can have negative health ramifications. 

On Tuesday, a Boil Water Notice impacting customers supplied by the same Glenties-Ardara Public Water Supply Scheme was lifted with water being declared as safe to drink. It had been operational since December 7.

But 99.5% of samples taken in 2020 across Ireland’s 740 public drinking water supplies are compliant for microbiological and chemical standards producing water that is safe to drink according to the latest Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Drinking Water Report.

The report shows that continued high levels of water quality being was being achieved which was positive for consumers, indicating that water is safe to drink. However, improvements are needed in our drinking water infrastructure to protect public health. 

Delays in the delivery of these improvements at water treatment plants by Irish Water means that water supplies remain vulnerable for longer, posing a risk to the health of a large portion of the population, the EPA say.

In response, Irish Water say, that since 2014, they have been working in partnership with Donegal County Council to upgrade water treatment plants, distribution networks and pump stations to address water quality issues such as cryptosporidium and THM risk across the county.

All water supplies which were previously at risk have been upgraded to improve water quality to homes and businesses, ensuring that everyone in Donegal has safe and clean drinking water, they say.

Irish Water have carried out essential upgrade works at: Cashilard; Fintown; Gortahork-Falcarragh; Owenteskna/Kilcar; Pettigo; Portnoo-Narin;Rathmullen; Cresslough; Greencastle; Milford-Letterkenny; Letterkenny; Glenties (works ongoing) and Ballymagroarty (works ongoing). 

The report, published today by the EPA also highlights the ongoing progress made by Irish Water in reducing water supplies classed as being at risk by the EPA, with a further 11 supplies removed from the Remedial Action List (RAL) in 2020 benefitting over 100,000 people.

The scale of investment, the level of national planning and the ongoing delivery of projects and programmes by Irish Water is demonstrated in the EPA report, they say. 

Commenting on the report, Dr Pat O’Sullivan, Irish Water’s Regional Drinking Water Compliance Specialist said: “Irish Water acknowledges the report and the important work the EPA undertakes as the supervisory authority for public water supplies. Overall, in 2020 public water supplies were 99.5% compliant which is a world class level of compliance with the drinking water regulations. Given the size and scale of investment needed to upgrade water treatment plants and the wider water network, Irish Water is very pleased to achieve such a high compliance rate for the Irish public. 

“During 2020, we made major investments in new and upgraded plants as well as delivering improvement programmes at our plants to enhance the quality and consistency of supply.  

“The report is clear, however, that much more remains to be done to secure water supplies into the future. Irish Water has plans underway to work with Local Authorities and other delivery partners to further enhance our ability to manage public water supplies to the required standards as set out in the Drinking Water Directives. Irish Water have also rolled out critical training to all Local Authorities to ensure alarms and controls are in place and are operationally effective to ensure public health is protected now and into the future.”

Recent boil notice

The most recent Donegal boil notice had been issued on December 7 to protect the health of consumers supplied by the Glenties-Ardara Public Water Supply Scheme and included consumers supplied by group water schemes including Loughros Point, Ardara, Sandfield, Ardara and Meenmore/Meenatinney and Fintown.

The Boil Water Notice was put in place due to a deterioration in raw water quality and increased raw water turbidity caused by Storm Barra at the Glenties-Ardara Water Treatment Plant.

Following a number of satisfactory water samples and confirmation that the water treatment plant had returned to normal operation, the Boil Water Notice was lifted on Tuesday.


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