EPA Report recognises continued improvements in Ireland’s drinking water quality

07 October 2022

The quality of Ireland’s drinking water continues to improve as a result of Irish Water’s progress in upgrading infrastructure, improving treatment processes, and enhancing monitoring of public supplies.

The latest Drinking Water Report published by the EPA shows that Ireland’s public water supplies are safe to drink, with 99.7% compliance with microbiological and chemical standards. This represents a further improvement in drinking water quality compared to the previous year and shows the benefits resulting from Irish Water’s ongoing high level of investment in water services nationwide.

In 2021, we invested over €460 million in Ireland’s water treatment plants and networks, with 12 water treatment plants built or upgraded and an additional 39 sites upgraded under the National Disinfection Programme. Key projects completed include new treatment plants in Vartry and Leixlip which together are benefitting over 700,000 people with cleaner, more secure drinking water supplies. As a result of this progress, the population on the EPA’s list of ‘at risk’ supplies reached its lowest ever level in 2021.

The EPA report in particular recognises that the ongoing improvements made by Irish Water in testing and monitoring drinking water supplies have played a key role in identifying risks to drinking water quality and protecting public health. Many of these risks existed for years but only came to light due to the more robust testing and sampling regimes that we have put in place. In some cases this has resulted in protective Boil Water Notices or other restrictions being introduced while the issues are addressed. This, according to the EPA, is a positive development which will result in a safer water supply for all customers.

Significant progress has also been made in developing systems to improve the management of incidents. In response to drinking water quality incidents in Gorey and Ballymore Eustace in 2021, the new National Operations Management Centre has been stood up on a 24/7 basis and so far 56 of Ireland’s largest drinking water plants, catering for a population of 2.85 million people, have been connected. This enables these plants to be monitored around the clock and action to be taken immediately when issues arise. Training has also been rolled out to all water services staff across the country to better equip them to manage or escalate incidents, so that we can protect and inform our customers.

Margaret Attridge of Irish Water said, “The EPA Drinking Water Report shows that the quality of Ireland’s drinking water supplies continues to improve. We have increased investment in our drinking water services year on year, and this is reaping big benefits for all our customers nationwide, giving them the assurance that, when they turn out their tap, they can enjoy clean, safe drinking water."

We recognise of course that challenges remain in some areas and we have prioritised our efforts in addressing these. In particular our enhanced focus on monitoring and testing supplies allows us to identify problems early and take action to fix them and, where appropriate, notify the public of any risks to their drinking water." 

"It will take a number of years and high levels of investment to bring our public water supply to the standard we all strive for but we are confident that we are on track to achieve this. Public health is our top priority and we will continue to work in partnership with our stakeholders, including the EPA, to ensure world class drinking water supplies for all our customers.”