Do Not Consume Notices

Learn about Do Not Consume Notices and what you should do if you are issued with one.

A Do Not Consume notice is issued to the public where the water supply is contaminated, and boiling it will have no effect on removing the contaminant.

Why they are issued

The most common reason for issuing a Do Not Consume (DNC) Notice would be where routine testing of the drinking water supply has shown the presence of a contaminant where boiling the water will not remove it nor make the water safe to drink (e.g. hydrocarbon contamination). The public health of our customers is of the utmost importance to Irish Water – therefore if such results are confirmed, we consult with the HSE to ensure an appropriate advisory notice is issued immediately.

In some cases a Do Not Consume Notice may be imposed where there may be evidence/risk of contamination but where test results are yet to be confirmed. An example might include where a key treatment process has failed, or where a pollution event has occurred in the vicinity of the source water (e.g. oil spill). In these cases it is prudent to protect public health by issuing a Do Not Consume Notice rather than wait for test results to confirm the risk.

Categories of Do Not Consume Notices

Do Not Consume Notice for all consumers

Applicable to all consumers within the area in question. Consumers cannot drink the water but can use it for bathing, showering, flushing toilets etc. A safe alternative drinking water source should be used for drinking and/or preparation of food, e.g. bottled water.

Do Not Consume Notice for certain groups of consumers

E.g. pregnant women, children under 6 months, elderly and/or infirmed.

Do Not Use for any purpose

This is only imposed where the water is grossly contaminated and it cannot be used for any purpose, i.e. drinking, bathing, showering, brushing teeth, flushing toilets.

The specific details/restrictions for use are described in the advisory notice that is issued to the affected area. This will describe whether the notice impacts all consumers or particular consumer groups, and any other relevant/specific restrictions of use.

Remember – If you have any health concerns, the best person to speak with is your local GP. If you have a specific health condition that relies on a safe supply of water (e.g. dialysis) you can register your details with Irish Water as a Vulnerable Customer. This will ensure you will contacted directly and immediately by an Irish Water customer representative if/when either a Boil Water Notice or Do Not Consume Notice is imposed.

Alternative water supplies when a Do Not Consume Notice is in place

Under our Customer Charter, Irish Water will provide an alternative water supply (AWS) to customers where a DNC notice is in place. An AWS is typically provided by way of a tanker at a public location (e.g. car park, town squares etc.) or bottled water collection.

Remember – If an AWS is provided from a water tanker, you must still boil and cool any water you collect from the tanker before drinking and/or food preparation. This will be clearly labelled on the water tanker.

Water for children and infants

These tips should help to care for children and infants during a Do Not Consume Notice.

Bathing

To ensure that babies/children do not consume (i.e. swallow) the water, sponge bathing might be a suitable alternative for the duration of the DNC notice.

Preparing feeds and baby bottles

Irish Water has received the following advice from the HSE on this matter:

Where a Do Not Consume Notice is in place, tap water must not be used to prepare infant feeds. When using tankered water or bottled water for the preparation of infant feeds the water should be boiled once and cooled.  All bottled water, with the exception of natural mineral water, is regulated to the same standard as drinking water. It is best not to use bottled water labelled as ‘Natural Mineral Water’ as it can have high levels of sodium (salt) and other minerals, although it rarely does. ‘Natural Mineral Water’ can be used if no other water is available, for as short a time as possible, as it is important to keep babies hydrated.

Ready-to-use formula that does not need added water can also be used.

It is also important to remind parents/caregivers of the importance of sterilising baby bottles, as opposed to just cleaning/rinsing in tap water.

Guidance for Food Businesses on the continued use of dishwashers and coffee machines during a Do Not Consume Notice

Coffee machines, or any dispensing machines that provide drinks for staff or customers should not use mains tap water while a DNC notice is in place. Unless the DNC advisory notice explicitly restricts the use of mains water for cleaning appliances such as dish/glass washers, these appliances can continue to be used. Any queries on the use of these appliances while a DNC notice is in place can be made to your local Environmental Health section of the HSE.

Water for animals

Pets

It is a good idea to avoid giving tap water to your pet while a DNC notice is in place. If in doubt you should consult your local vet.

Livestock

A Do Not Consume Notice is imposed to protect human health. If you have concerns regarding your animals' drinking water that is subject to a Do Not Consume Notice then you should consult your local vet.