Laois’ drinking water quality deteriorates

There has been a slight deterioration in the county’s drinking water according to the latest report from the Environmental Protection Agency.

There has been a slight deterioration in the county’s drinking water according to the latest report from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA report states that drinking water in Laois achieved 99.2 percent compliance for chemical standards in 2009, compared with 99.8 percent in 2008. Nine incidences of non-compliance were recorded in 2009, mostly for high levels of flouride, in Mountrath, Abbeyleix and Mountmellick. This compares with only three the year before, all found in Mountmellick, for a chemical called trihalomethane.

There is good news to report however, with seven out of eight of Laois’ public water supplies removed from a ‘Remedial Action List’ because they were brought up to standard. There were no incidences of E.coli contamination, a bacteria which would indicate the presence of human or animal waste, found in any public water supply.

Group water schemes fared considerably worse in the report. Though countrywide levels of E.coli dropped from 25 percent in 2008 to 17 percent in 2009, the report says that “in general, microbiological quality of private and group water schemes remains inferior to public”. This compares to an overall level of 2.9 percent for public schemes.

Mr Gerard O’Leary, EPA Programme Manager commented on the report.

“The EPA targeted a reduction in the detection of E.coli in drinking water in recent years and today we are seeing the success of this programme with a 50 per cent reduction in two years. Despite this reduction investment needs to be maintained to bring detection levels in line with other EU countries.”

This is the EPA’s third report on drinking water quality since new regulations were introduced in 2007, requiring all local authorities to notify them where there is a potential risk to human health, and to comply with their directions.

The report, The Provision and Quality of Drinking Water in Ireland, A Report for the years 2008 – 2009, is available on the EPA website at www.epa.ie/downloads/pubs/water/drinking/.

Laois County Council is responsible for the operation of 29 public water supplies, and provides advice and capital grants to private and group schemes. See www.laois.ie for more information.