Exceedances in pesticides have been detected in drinking water sources in Clonroche, Co Wexford and as a result the EPA has added the supply area onto their Remedial Action List (RAL). There is no threat to public health and Irish Water would like to reassure customers that their water is still safe to drink. The utility is working closely with other stakeholders to safeguard drinking water across Wexford.

The Clonroche supply area serves 588 people and Irish Water working in partnership with the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group (NPDWAG) is appealing to farmers and other users of pesticides to follow the guidelines when applying these substances to their lands. It is imperative that users of pesticides are mindful of best practice when spraying their lands.

The efforts to reduce the incidence of these detections are being coordinated by the NPDWAG. This group is chaired by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. All of the key stakeholders are represented in this group and include other Government departments and agencies; local authorities; industry representative bodies; farming organisations; water sector organisations; and amenity sector organisations.

The pesticide Bentazone which was detected in the supply is used mainly for the control of broad-based leaves and is found in a number of weed killer formulations used by gardeners and growers.

Pat Duggan Irish Water’s Regional Drinking Water Compliance Specialist said: “Irish Water is continuing its extensive investment programme to improve water and wastewater services in Ireland. Providing safe, clean drinking water and safeguarding that water supply for the future is our first priority. In Ireland, over 80 per cent of drinking water supplies come from surface water sources including rivers, lakes and streams. Such supplies are vulnerable to contamination from land and animal run-off.”

Adding to this, Dr Aidan Moody, Chair of NPDWAG commented: “The continued engagement of all stakeholders, working in partnership, is needed to address this issue. Users of pesticides should make sure that they are aware of the best practice measures that should be followed to protect water quality.”

A single drop of pesticide can breach the drinking water limit in a small stream for up to 30 kilometres. This clearly highlights the potential risk facing many of Ireland’s drinking water sources. Drinking water monitoring results for Ireland show that a number of pesticides commonly used on grassland, such as Bentazone and MCPA, are being detected more frequently.

Irish Water working in partnership with the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group would like to remind farmers and professional users of pesticides of the need to follow best practice in the application of pesticides on land, particularly near lakes and rivers used as drinking water sources.

The basic steps in reducing pesticide risks are:

  • Choose the right pesticide product
  • Read and follow the product label
  • Determine the right amount to purchase and use
  • Don’t spray if rain or strong wind is forecast in the next 48 hours
  • Make sure you are aware of the location of all nearby water courses
  • Comply with any buffer zone specified on the product label to protect the aquatic environment. Mark out the specified buffer zone from the edge of the river or lake or other water course
  • Never fill a sprayer directly from a water course or carry out mixing, loading or other handling operations beside a water course
  • Avoid spills, stay well back from open drains and rinse empty containers 3 times into the sprayer.
  • Store and dispose of pesticides and their containers properly.

A recently produced video on the correct use of MCPA can be viewed on Irish Water’s YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/xQqtZ7jifUs

Information leaflets on pesticide use are also available to download from the Teagasc website.


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