We know the water table supplying water to private wells is being polluted by intensive farming, particularly dairy farms, but now we learn that rural septic tanks could also be contributing to the problem.
In a recent report from the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the National Inspection Plan for 2019 shows that over a quarter of private waste treatment systems (septic tanks) were a risk to human health or the local environment. But worse, over half (51%) of septic systems inspected failed altogether.
According to the EPA, neglect and lack of maintenance plus a lack of desludging were identified as key problems with domestic wastewater treatment systems or septic tanks in rural communities.
If septic tanks are not regularly emptied or desludged, they can overflow and damage percolation areas or local streams and rivers. Untreated effluent from these overflowing or damaged septic tanks can also seep into the ground and thereby contaminate local wells and underground water tables. A common bacteria in contaminated wells is Ecoli (E.coli).
Ecoli is a faecal bacteria from animal or human waste which, when ingested, lives in the gut and can cause abdominal cramping, a watery diarrhoea that may change to bloody stools, and eventually a fever. In can be fatal in sick people or the elderly.
To protect your family’s health and ensure safe drinking water from a private water well, we recommend installing a water filtration system. For home owners with their own private water well, a Government grant is available to assist with protecting and maintaining private household water wells or installing water filtration, water purification or disinfection systems.
The first step to determine the type of water filter or disinfection (UV system) you need is to test your water supply.
With the publication of recent research on the link between bladder cancer and THM’s in public drinking water supplies in Ireland, it’s important that households consider the benefits of installing a water filter in their home.
Research carried out by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Europe, shows that up to 5% or more of bladder cancers in Ireland and some other EU countries could be attributed to the use of disinfectant products like chlorine in the chlorination of drinking water. Chlorine appears to be the most widely used disinfectant used in the purification of drinking water by public water utilities. However, when surface water (from rivers or lakes) is used for public water supplies, free chlorine can react with organic compounds (such as vegetation) in the water creating byproducts known as THM’s (Trihalomethanes), which are associated with bladder cancer.
It should be noted that there is no unequivocal evidence that THMs cause bladder cancer, only a link and that the health benefits of water disinfection and chlorination far outweigh a small increase in the risk of bladder cancer.
However, as Ireland is one of nine countries that exceed current average THMs levels in drinking water according to the research, it could lead to an increase in the number of bladder cancer cases unless measures are adopted to optimise water treatment and disinfection without compromising the microbiological quality of drinking water. Households could include additional filtration such as point-of-use water filters or a whole-house water filter systems in their homes, or even a simple filter jug would help remove the chlorination by-products.
As public water supplies are generally very high quality in most parts of Ireland already, installing a quality under-sink water filter (point-of-use) or whole house water filtration system will purify the water even further and provide long term protection as well all the health benefits of drinking pure clean water.
The EU Commission has opened an infringement case against Ireland for failure to ensure that drinking water for over 500,000 Irish consumers is safe from a chemical known to be linked to cancer and other health issues.
The Commission sent the formal notice letter to Ireland for failing to fulfil its obligations under the European Union Drinking Water Directive by allowing excessive levels of Trihalomethanes (THM’s) in some Irish drinking water.
According to the Commission, the Irish authorities had “not taken appropriate actions” to reduce THM values. The Commission is also pursuing the Irish state for failing to notify consumers of the health implications as required under the EU Directive. For households worried about THMs and other chemical contaminants in their drinking water, a quality under-sink water filter or filtration system will purify the water for drinking and provide long term protection and peace of mind…more
According to an RTE news report on October 5th, an estimated 2,500 customers in Rathkeale town and also the Kilcolman area are affected by a “Do Not Drink” water advisory from Irish Water. Customers and users of the public water supply in Rathkeale, have been advised not to drink the water or use it to prepare food or brush their teeth with it. The precautionary notice was issued by Irish Water after advise from the HSE and Limerick County Council where tests showed the Rathkeale public water supply had high levels of turbidity.
Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness or haziness of water supplies and is caused by particles of dirt or suspended solids such as sediment and grit. The turbidity in water can look unsightly and could leave a sediment residue in household plumbing systems, bathtubs, sinks, plumbing fixtures and appliances.
As a tempory measure, supplies of bottled water are being made available at Rathkeale Church car park in the town, while Irish Water is working to correct the problem, which could take a number of days to fix. Read more..
Approximately 20% of the population get their drinking water from private supplies, including group water schemes or private wells. In 2016, a lack of monitoring by local authorities resulted in 126 boil water notices being imposed on private water supplies which affected around 7,000 people.
The EPA has criticised the way E.coli testing of private water supplies is done by local authorities. E.coli is a faecal bacteria from animal or human waste which, when ingested, lives in the gut and causes abdominal cramping, watery diarrhoea that may change to bloody stools, and eventually a fever. In can be fatal in people who are sick or the elderly. According to the EPA, E.coli testing was not reported at over 800 private water supplies serving commercial buildings like hotels, B&Bs, pubs or public buildings [like schools, crèches, campsites, nursing homes etc]. These supplies are often more likely to be contaminated with E-Coli.
For homeowners and households worried about contamination in their drinking water supplies, we recommend the installation of a quality point of use water filter or wholehouse water filtration system.
According to a report in the Limerick Leader newspaper, some residents in the village of Ardagh have been unable to drink their tap water for the past few months because of the smell of petrol in the drinking water. The problem appears to be worse when the water is heated.
Irish Water have apparently wrote to residents telling them that the HSE advice was “not to drink the water or use it for prepared food, ice making or brushing of teeth.”
“However, unless any petrol type odour is noted, this water can be used for toilet flushing bathing, showering, laundry and dishwashing.”
For households worried about contamination in their drinking water supplies, we recommend the installation of a quality point of use water filter or wholehouse water filtration system…Read More
The Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published the results of research which shows for the first time, evidence on the sources and scale of microplastic pollution in Irish freshwater. The research which was led by researchers in the Marine and Freshwater Research Centre at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), also points to a number of potential impacts of microplastics in Irish waters to both humans and other species.
The increase in plastic production and disposal in recent decades has resulted in plastic litter becoming an increasing environmental concern and problem. Microplastics are a contributor to this plastic litter. Microplastics are defined as plastic particles less than 5mm in diameter, formed either through the breakdown of large plastic particles or through intentional production (as microbead scrubbers) in products such as cosmetics and household cleaning products. Wastewater treatment facilities are not designed to filter out or remove microplastics so these non-biodegradable micro-particles can end up in rivers and oceans, potentially entering the human food chain. As a home owner, if you are worried about potential plastic micropolutants in your drinking water supply, we recommend the installation of a quality point of use water filter or wholehouse water filtration system. Read more…
Private drinking water supplies including those serving rural schools, hotels and hospitals have some of Ireland’s worst quality water, the Irish Environmental Protection Agency has warned. The new report form the EPA, shows that small private wells, including those in Co Limerick, have the worst E.coli contamination levels – significantly behind group water schemes and public water supplies. Private water wells on or close to dairy farms where animal and cow slurry is stored or spread are particularly vulnerable to contamination from E-coli. As well as slurry seeping into the ground, other sources of contamination include leaky well covers, foul surface water, slurry leaking into rivers and streams and pollution from household septic tanks, chemical or fuel storage.
To protect your family health and ensure safe drinking water from a private water well, a water filtration system is a sound investment. For home owners with their own private water well, a grant of up 75% of the cost subject to a maximum of €2031.58 is available from the Department of Housing Planning Community and Local Government to assist with protecting and maintaining their household water well or installing basic treatment like disinfection or filtration systems. Click here to download or read the full EPA report.
The use of chlorine to purify drinking water is common in rural water schemes throughout Ireland and is essential to ensure safe drinking water. However, if organic matter is present it can react with the chlorine to form trihalomethanes or (THMs). This is often the case in Ireland, as most of our drinking water comes from surface-water sources, such as rivers, lakes and streams, that often have high levels of vegetation or organic matter.
In a report published by the Irish Times, it shows that some studies have suggested a link between cancer and long-term exposure (over years) to THMs, and also that THMs can have an effect on reproduction. According to the Irish Time article, there is some evidence that THMs cause cancer in animals. As a result, they are classified as “possibly carcinogenic” to humans. In Ireland, THM’s have been known to occur in some counties where the surface water is sourced from areas close to boggy or peat soils. This means that some areas of West Limerick such as Athea, Ashford, Tournafulla could be affected. The vegetation and organic matter in these water supplies reacts with chlorine (which is used to purify the water) to form Trihalomethanes.
What are THMs? Trihalomethanes (THM’s) occur when water containing natural organic matter or vegetation is treated with chlorine to purify it. The result is a disinfection by-product known as THMs. At elevated levels, THMs have been associated with negative health effects such as cancer and adverse reproductive outcomes.
For anyone living in the affected areas or who anyone worried about THMs and other chemical contaminants in their drinking water, a quality under-sink water filter or water filtration system will purify the water for drinking and provide long term protection and peace of mind. Read More…
Cryptosporidium has been detected in the treated water coming from the Lough Mask Water Treatment Plant in Co Mayo, according to a report in the Mayo News. In line with normal practice, and depending on results from the now daily testing that will occur, this Boil Water Notice could remain in place for approximately two weeks. Cryptosporidium is a parasite that lives in, or on another organism. It can infect the bowels (intestines) and cause cryptosporidiosis. Infection can occur in humans and animals and is often caused by animal manure or farm slurry, particularly slurry from large dairy farms getting into a drinking water source. A quality home water filter system is an effective way to safeguard drinking water supplies from Cryptosporidium and other parasites…Read More
Many drinking water treatment plants throughout Ireland are in poor condition and facing failure according to Irish Water. Because of stringent new quality guidelines, water is now tested up to six times a year and Irish Water intends to shut down plants and issue boil-water notices if problems emerge. This is unlike how water treatment plants operated in the past, where boil-water notices were implemented after problems were discovered. For many homes in rural areas, a home water filter system would be a good investment in improving the quality of drinking water as well as a safeguard if and when boil water notices are issued. Read More…