EPA report highlights continuing high quality of public drinking water supplied

15 December 2021

99.5% of water samples taken in 2020 were compliant, meaning public water supplies are safe to drink

  • 99.5% of water samples taken in 2020 were compliant, meaning public water supplies are safe to drink
  • 58 Water Treatment Plants built or upgraded in 2020
  • €450m invested in water projects
  • Over 100,000 people removed from ‘at risk’ supplies in 2020.

December 15 2021 – 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, published today by the EPA 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. This work continued throughout 2021, with an additional six supplies removed so far this year, benefitting over 660,000 people. As a result the population on the RAL reached its lowest ever figure by mid-2021 and Irish Water is continuing with its plans to address all remaining supplies. 

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. 

Key programmes such as the National Disinfection Programme, and the removal of the risk of THMs (Trihalomethanes) and Cryptosporidium in water supplies are ongoing and are vital to ensuring clean, safe drinking water throughout the country. In 2020, Irish Water invested €450m in building or upgrading 58 Water Treatment Plants (WTP) including significant upgrades to the Lough Talt and Staleen WTPs which collectively addressed long running water quality risks for THMs and Cryptosporidium. 

Further progress has been made in 2021 with significant upgrades completed at Leixlip Water Treatment Plant, at Stillorgan Reservoir, and at Vartry Water Treatment plant. These works will ensure over 1 million customers will receive a safe and secure supply into the future. 

Commenting on the report, Katherine Walshe, Head of Environmental Regulation with Irish Water, 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.  

"Our investment continues. We are advancing Drinking Water Safety Plans for all of our larger supplies, with a key emphasis on minimising risks from source to tap. We have engaged extensively and comprehensively with the EPA on this and will prioritise funding towards those schemes at highest risk.

“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.

Irish Water is also making strong progress in reducing the number of long-term Boil Water Notices in place around the country. Since the establishment of Irish Water, 263 Boil Water Notices have been lifted, benefiting approx. 1.8 million people. Where risks to water quality are identified through rigorous sampling and testing Boil Water Notices are issued in order to safeguard public health. In all instances immediate action is undertaken to address the underlying causes of the issue to enable the lifting of the notice as soon as it safe to do so. In some cases, this may take time as capital investment may be required to address a treatment deficiency. Irish Water has addressed all long-term boil water notices that were in place before it was established, and the average duration of all subsequent notices is decreasing. 

Irish Water has been working in partnership with Carlow County Council, to address water quality issues across the county. We have built new drinking water infrastructure in towns and villages across the county, improving water quality and benefitting local communities. In addition, the largest water production facility in county Carlow is currently receiving an upgrade. The Carlow North Regional Water Supply Scheme with production at the Rathvilly Water Treatment Plant will bring a safer, more reliable water supply to a population of 9,783 in Carlow, west Wicklow and Kildare once complete and will promote social and economic development in the area.

Carlow Disinfection Programme

We're investing €65 million to upgrade and standardise disinfection systems across the country. The programme involves over 864 water treatment plants, pumping stations, and reservoirs across the country.

Delivering clean, safe drinking water is our top priority. Disinfection is an important part of the water treatment process. The disinfection progress kills disease-causing organisms in water.

The National Disinfection Programme ensures Carlow will continue to have safe and secure drinking water. We have been working with Carlow County Council to assess the water treatment plants in Carlow.

Disinfection systems at 12 plants are being upgraded and standardised. These sites include: The Parade (Bangelstown), Royal Oak (Bangelstown), Ballinkillin, Borris, Raheenleigh, Rathvilly, Oak Park (Carlow Town), Sion Cross (Carlow Town), Leighlinbridge, Old Leighlin, Tyllow and Bilboa Water Treatment Plants.

The programme involved assessing the condition and performance of all the sites. We then determined the disinfection systems that need to be upgraded. Works at the plants included upgrades to the:

  • Chemical storage and dosing infrastructure
  • Chlorine contact time provision systems
  • Disinfection systems using Ultra Violet (UV) where required
  • Monitoring instrumentation systems
  • Control, telemetry and automation processes

The upgrade works carried out as part of this project have improved the security of drinking water for residents and businesses across Carlow, improved the disinfection systems and standards, future-proofed the security of supplies, provided improved control of the systems and ensured continued compliance with Drinking Water Quality Regulations.

Since 2014, Irish Water has been working in partnership with Clare County Council, to address water quality issues across the county. We have built new drinking water infrastructure in towns and villages across the county, improving water quality and benefitting local communities.  

By building this new infrastructure we have improved drinking water for over 1,700 people and facilitated the removal of 5 water supplies from the EPA’s Remedial Action List. 

We have prioritised our investment to improve drinking water quality for residents and businesses across Clare.  

Irish Water are making progress across our projects and programmes:

Clare Disinfection Programme - We are investing €65 million to upgrade and standardise disinfection systems across the country. The programme involves over 864 water treatment plants, pumping stations, and reservoirs across the country.

Delivering clean, safe drinking water is our top priority. Disinfection is an important part of the water treatment process. The disinfection progress kills disease-causing organisms in water.

The National Disinfection Programme ensures Clare will continue to have safe and secure drinking water. The Clare programme is now complete. Disinfection systems at 15 plants have been upgraded and standardised. We have also finished operational upgrades to public water supplies and pumping stations.

These supplies include: Ennistymon, Scarriff, Kiladysert, Corofin, Mountshannon, Feakle, Carron, Flagmount, Kilkeedy, Shannon/Sixmilebridge, West Clare and Turlough.

Contracts have been signed for the upgrades of three water treatment plants in Clare that are on the EPA Remedial Action List. Construction work is underway at Carron and New Doolough (West Clare) water treatment plants. Work on the third plant at Ballymacraven (Ennistymon) is scheduled to commence in 2023.

Since 2014, Irish Water has been working in partnership with Cork City and County Councils, to address water quality issues across the county. We have built new drinking water infrastructure in towns and villages across the county, improving water quality and benefitting local communities.  

By building this new infrastructure we have improved drinking water for over 23,000 people and facilitated the removal of 14 water supplies from the EPA’s Remedial Action List to date. 

We have prioritised our investment to improve drinking water quality for residents and businesses across Cork.  Irish Water has carried out essential upgrade works at: Ballingeary, Kealkill, Adrigole, Allihies, Cahermore, Castletownbere, Millstreet, Crookhaven, Whitegate, Mogeely, Drimoleague, Durrus, Whiddy Island, and Ballyhooly

Irish Water are also making progress across other projects & programmes such as: Lee Road Water Treatment Plant - Investing approximately €40 million to upgrade the water supply for over 70% of Cork City. This project will provide much needed upgraded facilities to safeguard the water supply for Cork City. Once works are complete, the upgraded and modernised plant will provide a more secure water supply for the future of Cork City.

Eastern & Western Strategic Trunk Watermains - Irish Water, working in partnership with Cork City Council, is working to improve the security of water supply across Cork City. These projects will increase security of supply and reduce leakage of large strategic mains in Cork City.

The Eastern Strategic Trunk Watermain project will replace and upsize where required 2.4km of various sized large diameter trunk mains between Camden Quay and Shanakiel Reservoir.

The Western Strategic Trunk Watermain project involves the construction of a 5.5km link between the Cork City Water Supply Scheme and the Cork Harbour and City Water Supply Scheme, as supplied from Inniscarra Water Treatment Plant. This watermain will provide additional water supply capacity to Cork City by providing a strategic connection between the water supply schemes and will provide necessary headroom, to facilitate growth and also increase security of supply.

Churchfield Reservoir Roof Replacement – Investing approximately €5 million in the replacement of the existing roof on Churchfield Reservoir. The 40 megalitre reservoir located at Churchfield in Cork city was originally constructed in 1982 and currently supplies drinking water to over 34,000 Irish Water customers. It comprises of a 73m circular reinforced concrete structure in which a maximum depth of 10m of water is stored. The investment will ensure appropriately treated, safe and reliable drinking water is supplied to customers in the area. 

Skibbereen Regional Water Supply Scheme Upgrade - Irish Water is investing €28 million on the Skibbereen Regional Water Supply Scheme to benefit over 7,000 people.  This project will provide a safe, secure and reliable supply of drinking water. Skibbereen Regional Water Supply Scheme is currently supplied with drinking water from five separate water treatment plants. At present three of these, namely Drimoleague Water Treatment Plant (WTP), Skeagh WTP (near Schull) and Ballinlough WTP (near Leap), are providing inadequate levels of treatment.

Additionally, both Schull high level and Leap supply areas are currently vulnerable to supply outages in the event of a burst on the network or in the event of source or treatment issues at the plants. There is currently no treated water storage on Sherkin Island, so the supply is vulnerable to outages. Furthermore, sections of the existing water supply pipes at Drimoleague, Castledonovan, Schull, Leap and Bluid have reached the end of their expected lifespan and require replacement.

This project involves the upgrade of the existing water treatment plants at Ballyhilty and Lake Cross, the decommissioning of the existing Drimoleague water treatment plant, Skeagh water treatment plant and Ballinlough water treatment plant, the construction of over 35km of new water mains and the construction of new treated water storage reservoirs in Drimoleague, Schull, Leap and Sherkin. Works are due to be completed in 2021.

This significant project will improve the quality of the water being supplied, ensure a reliable water supply to Skibbereen and the surrounding area, safeguard the water supplies for 7,000 people in the Skibbereen area, increase the security of supply across the scheme, facilitate the removal of Drimoleague, Schull and Leap from the EPA’s Remedial Action List (RAL) and ensure compliance with current drinking water regulations.

Cork Disinfection Programme: Irish Water are investing €65 million to upgrade and standardise disinfection systems across the country. The programme involves over 864 water treatment plants, pumping stations, and reservoirs across the country.

Delivering clean, safe drinking water is our top priority. Disinfection is an important part of the water treatment process. The disinfection progress kills disease-causing organisms in water.

To date, disinfection systems at 6 plants have been upgraded and standardised across Cork. The sites upgraded are Grenagh Reservoir Site, Castletownroche Water Treatment Plant (WTP), Ballyhooly, Dunmahon WTP, Bweeng WTP and Cullen Pump Station.

Since 2014, Irish Water has been working in partnership with Limerick City and County Councils, to address water quality issues across the county. We have built new drinking water infrastructure in towns and villages across the county, improving water quality and benefitting local communities.  

By building this new infrastructure we have improved drinking water for over 9,000 people and facilitated the removal of three water supplies from the EPA’s Remedial Action List. 

We have prioritised our investment to improve drinking water quality for residents and businesses across Limerick.  Irish Water has carried out essential upgrade works at Hospital, Abbeyfeale and Croom. 

Irish Water are also investing €65 million in the Limerick Disinfection Programme to upgrade and standardise disinfection systems across the country. The programme involves over 864 water treatment plants, pumping stations, and reservoirs across the country.

Delivering clean, safe drinking water is our top priority. Disinfection is an important part of the water treatment process. The disinfection progress kills disease-causing organisms in water.

The National Disinfection Programme ensures Limerick will continue to have safe and secure drinking water. We have been working with Limerick County Council to complete a detailed assessment of the water treatment plants (WTP) in Limerick.

The Limerick programme is ongoing with disinfection systems at 19 plants upgraded and standardised so far. We have also finished operational upgrades to public water supplies and pumping stations.

These sites include: Pallasgreen, Anglesboro, Athlacca, Ballingarry, Knocklong, Ballygrennan, Bruff, Bruree, Caherconlish, Ballyagran, Doon, Fedamore, Glenosheen , Herbertstown, Carrigmore, Clouncagh, Hospital, Oola and Martinstown.

Since 2014, Irish Water has been working in partnership with Kerry County Council, to address water quality issues across the county. We have built new drinking water infrastructure in towns and villages across the county, improving water quality and benefitting local communities.   

By building this new infrastructure we have improved drinking water for over 160,000 people and facilitated the removal of 41 water supplies from the EPA’s Remedial Action List. 

We have prioritised our investment to improve drinking water quality for residents and businesses across Kerry.  Irish Water has carried out essential upgrade works at Cahirciveen, Caherdaniel, An Clochan, Ballinskelligs, Ballymacadam, Castlegregory, Ballintobeenig, Knocknageeha Gneeveguilla, Sheheree, Scart, Cill Maolcheadair, Dingle, Ballybunnion, Ballyduff, Ballylongford, Scartleigh, Tarmons, Dun Chaoin, Fenit, Glen, Inch, Kenmare, Killsarkin, Lauragh, Lisarboola, Lisloose Reservoir, Listowel Regional Public Water Supply, Lough Guitane, Lyranes, Maulin, Milltown (Poulgorum), Minard (Puck Island), Murreagh Ballydavid, Portmagee, Templenoe, Ventry, Waterville, Kilgarvan, Barraduff, Castlecove and Shrone.

Kerry Central Regional Water Supply Scheme:

This €30 million project provided for a safe and secure water supply for residents, industry, agriculture and tourism in the area as well as ensuring 62,000 customers are removed from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Remedial Action List (RAL).

Over 62,000 people depend on the Kerry Central Regional Water Supply Scheme which serves one of the main tourist regions in Ireland including Tralee, Killarney, Castleisland, Castlemaine. 

The scheme abstracts raw water from Lough Guitane and, until the completion of this project, did not have an effective treatment system that incorporated a cryptosporidium barrier to treat the raw water. This meant that the areas supplied by the Kerry Central Regional Water Supply Scheme were at risk due to the lack of sufficient water treatment and were on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Remedial Action List (RAL). 

This project ensures a safe and secure water supply to these communities. The new water treatment plant is among the largest in the country and provides over 50 million litres of drinking water every day.

Kerry Disinfection Programme:

We're investing €65 million to upgrade and standardise disinfection systems across the country. The programme involves over 864 water treatment plants, pumping stations, and reservoirs across the country.

Delivering clean, safe drinking water is our top priority. Disinfection is an important part of the water treatment process. The disinfection progress kills disease-causing organisms in water.

The National Disinfection Programme ensures Kerry will continue to have safe and secure drinking water. We have been working with Kerry County Council to complete a detailed assessment of the water treatment plants in Kerry.

The Kerry programme is now complete. Disinfection systems at 16 plants have been upgraded and standardised. We have also finished operational upgrades to public water supplies and pumping stations.

These sites include: Ballyheigue, Ardfert South, Lyreacrompane, Brosna/Knocknagoshel, Camp, Annascaul, An Baile Mor, An Daingean, Dun Chaoin, An Fheothanach, Inch, Ceann Tra (Ventry), Coulagh, Breanlee, An Mhín Aird Gualainn and Dromin.

In Kilkenny, since 2014, Irish Water has continued to upgrade drinking water supplies across the county. These works have improved the water quality for over 20,000 people in Kilkenny. We have built new drinking water infrastructure in towns and villages across the county, improving water quality and benefitting local communities.  

By building this new infrastructure we have improved drinking water for over 20,000 people and facilitated the removal of 4 water supplies from the EPA’s Remedial Action List. 

We have prioritised our investment to improve drinking water quality for residents and businesses across Kilkenny. Irish Water has carried out essential upgrade works at:

  1. Bennettsbridge
  2. Inistioge 
  3. Kilkenny City (Troyswood) 
  4. Glenmore

Irish Water recently announced that Glan Agua has commenced works on the Kilkenny Regional Water Supply Scheme which will see a €30 million euro investment at the Troyswood treatment plant which will benefit 28,000 people. The upgrade works are expected to take around two and half years to complete and will include a new 3 km watermain from Troyswood to the Radestown site to connect to the existing service reservoirs and enable the Radestown plant to be decommissioned. There is also a project underway at the Jamestown Water Treatment Plant (Pilltown/Fidown) in Kilkenny and will benefit 3,000 people once complete.

Kilkenny Disinfection Programme

We're investing €65 million to upgrade and standardise disinfection systems across the country. The programme involves over 864 water treatment plants, pumping stations, and reservoirs across the country.

Delivering clean, safe drinking water is our top priority. Disinfection is an important part of the water treatment process. The disinfection progress kills disease-causing organisms in water.

The National Disinfection Programme ensures Kilkenny will continue to have safe and secure drinking water. We have been working with Kilkenny County Council to complete a detailed assessment of the water treatment plants in Kilkenny.

The Kilkenny programme is now complete. Disinfection systems at 12 water treatment plants (WTP),  pumping stations and reservoirs have been upgraded and standardised. We have also finished operational upgrades to public water supplies and pumping stations.

Sites include: Ballyragget WTP, Callan WTP (Mallaunglass), Love Lane WTP, Clogh Castlecomer WTP (Loon WTP), Gowran Goresbridge Paulstown WTP, Graiguenamanagh WTP (Coolroe WTP), Mooncoin WTP (Clonassy WTP ), Mountfinn WTP , Gorteen WTP (Gorteen Springs ), Kilmaganny WTP, Mullinabro WTP and Bawntamaneenagh (Freshford).

In County Tipperary, Irish Water has been working in partnership with Tipperary County Council, to address water quality issues across the county. New drinking water infrastructure has been built in towns and villages across the county, improving water quality and benefitting local communities. By building this new infrastructure, drinking water has been improved for over 24,000 people and 7 water supplies have been removed from the EPA’s Remedial Action List. Investment has been prioritised to improve drinking water quality for residents and businesses across Tipperary. Irish Water has carried out essential upgrade works at Burncourt, Carrick-on-Suir (Crotty's Lake), Carrick-on-Suir (Lingaun River), Cloran Regional, Gortnapisha, Graigue and Mullenbawn.

Disinfection systems have been upgraded and standardised at the following plants in County Tipperary: Horse & Jockey WTP, Holycross WTP, Ahenny Water Treatment Plant (WTP), Ballinvir WTP, Coalbrook WTP, Commons WTP, Rossadrehid WTP, Ironmills WTP, Mullinbawn WTP, Monroe WTP, Templetney WTP, Springmount WTP, Linguan WTP and Tullohea WTP.

Irish Water has completed the works to improve the water supply in Thurles and the surrounding area, providing a safe and secure water supply to over 15,000 people in the Thurles area, as well as Borrisoleigh, Ballycahill  and Holycross. 

Since 2014, Irish Water has been working in partnership with Waterford County Council, to address water quality issues across the county. We have built new drinking water infrastructure in towns and villages across the county, improving water quality and benefitting local communities.  

Irish Water have prioritised our investment to improve drinking water quality for residents and businesses across Waterford.   Irish Water has carried out essential upgrade works at Ballyhane, Colligan, Croan Upper, Inchinleamy, Lismore, Smoorebeg, Stradbally, Tallow and Ring/Helvick. 

Making progress across other projects & programmes: Waterford Disinfection Programme – Irish Water are investing €65 million to upgrade and standardise disinfection systems across the country. The programme involves over 864 water treatment plants, pumping stations, and reservoirs across the country.

Delivering clean, safe drinking water is our top priority. Disinfection is an important part of the water treatment process. The disinfection progress kills disease-causing organisms in water.

The National Disinfection Programme ensures Waterford will continue to have safe and secure drinking water. We have been working with Waterford County Council to complete a detailed assessment of the water treatment plants in Waterford.

The Waterford programme is now complete. Disinfection systems at 28 plants have been upgraded and standardised. We have also finished operational upgrades to public water supplies and pumping stations.

These sites include: Aglish Cul Rua, Ballyheaphy, Ballymacarbry, Ballysaggart, Camphire, Coolboa Reservoir, Deelish Ballinacourty, Dungarvan, Dunhill Ballynageeragh, Dunhill Cois Cille, Faha, Fews, Garravone, Inchinleamy, Kilbrien, Killenagh (Strancally), Kilrossanty, Ballyduff, Cappoquin, Melleray, Modelligo, Monamon, Monea, Rathgormack, Stradbally, Tallow, Tourneena and Villierstown.

Since 2014, Irish Water has been working in partnership with Wexford County Council, to address water quality issues across the county. We have built new drinking water infrastructure in towns and villages across the county, improving water quality and benefitting local communities.  

By building this new infrastructure we have improved drinking water for over 11,000 people and facilitated the removal of the Sow Regional Water Supply Scheme from the EPA’s Remedial Action List. 

Irish Water, working in partnership with Wexford County Council, are progressing works for the delivery of the Gorey Regional Water Supply Scheme.

The project provides for a new water treatment plant (WTP) and reservoir at Ballyminaun Hill, upgrades works to an existing reservoir at Ballyminaun Hill and associated interconnecting infrastructure. Works are due to be completed by the end of this year. The existing scheme is operating at maximum capacity. This project will increase capacity to the area in order to facilitate growth and development. This project will benefit businesses and residents of Gorey and the surrounding area through improvement of security of water supply. Progress has been made in other projects and programmes also;

Wexford Disinfection Programme

We're investing €65 million to upgrade and standardise disinfection systems across the country. The programme involves over 864 water treatment plants, pumping stations, and reservoirs across the country.

Delivering clean, safe drinking water is our top priority. Disinfection is an important part of the water treatment process. The disinfection progress kills disease-causing organisms in water.

Irish Water is upgrading Water Treatment Plants across Wexford as part of the National Disinfection Programme. This programme has resulted in upgrades and standardisation of disinfection systems at 25 water treatment plants, pumping stations and reservoirs across the county. 

To date, upgrades have been completed in Ballindaggin, Boolavogue, Bree, Carrickduff, Castledockrell, Clonroche, Coolgreaney, Davidstown, Vinegar Hill, Killagooley, Edermine, Ballygarron, Kiltealy Ballycrystal, Ballinellard, Newtown, Woodview Drive Adamstown, Monagear-Moin Rua, Camolin, Chestnut Grove, Raheen, Terrarath, Creagh, Glynn and Carrickbyrne Water Treatment Plants.