Farmers and other users urged to use best practice when spraying pesticides

Exceedances in pesticides are on the increase across certain counties and while there is no threat to public health, it is imperative that users of pesticides are mindful of best practice when spraying their lands. 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 ensure that best practice measures to protect drinking water quality are always followed.

Efforts to reduce the incidence of detections are being coordinated by the NPDWAG which 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.

Andy Boylan, Regional Drinking Water Compliance Specialist

“Irish Water is continuing its extensive investment programme to improve water and wastewater services in Ireland. Providing safe, clean drinking water for all is our first priority. In Ireland, the majority (82 per cent) of drinking water supplies come from surface water sources (water from rivers, lakes and streams). Such supplies are vulnerable to contamination from land and animal run-off.”

Dr Aidan Moody, Chair of the NPDWAG

“The continued engagement of all stakeholders, working in partnership, is needed to tackle 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.”

County specific pesticide information

Donegal

Exceedances in pesticides are on the increase across Co Donegal with two exceedances detected during 2018 in the River Eske Public Water Supply. Eight different supplies in Co Donegal (Bundoran, Fanad East, Fanad West, Frosses /Inver, Letterkenny, Milford, Fullerton Dam and Rosses) have seen the herbicide MCPA and other pesticides such as Cypermethrin, Glyphosate and Fluroxypyr detected over the past two years, albeit mostly at very low levels. 

Roscommon

We did not detect any exceedances in pesticides in Co Roscommon in 2018 despite three exceedances for the pesticide MCPA detected in 2017 in the North Roscommon public water supply.

Cavan

Exceedances in pesticides are on the increase across Co Cavan with exceedances detected during 2018 in Belturbet Public Water Supply (4), Killeshandra Public Water Supply (2), Cavan Regional Water Supply Scheme (5), Ballyjamesduff Regional Water Supply Scheme (1), Arvagh Public Water Supply (1), and Gowna (1).

Galway

Exceedances in pesticides continue to be detected across Co Galway with exceedances detected during 2018 in the Ballinasloe Public Water Supply (1) and Tully-Tullycross Public Water Supply (2).

Mayo

Exceedances in pesticides are on the increase across Co Mayo with exceedances detected during 2018 in the Westport Public Water Supply (1), Newport Water Supply Scheme (3), Louisburgh Water Supply Scheme (4) and Kiltimagh Water Supply Scheme (2).

Sligo

We did not detect any exceedances in pesticides in drinking water sources in Co Sligo in 2017 and 2018, but the national water utility, working in partnership with the National Pesticide and Drinking Water Action Group (NPDWAG) is urging users of pesticides to continue to be mindful of best practice when spraying their lands to protect drinking water quality.  

Monaghan

Exceedances in pesticides continue to be detected across Co Monaghan with exceedances detected during 2018 in the Emyvale Public Water Supply (3), Glaslough Public Water Supply (2) and Newbliss Public Water Supply (1). Five different supplies in Co Monaghan, Iniskeen Public Water Supply, Lough Egish Regional Water Supply, Monaghan Public Water Supply, Clones Public Water Supply and Drum Public Water Supply  have seen the herbicide MCPA detected over the past two years, albeit mostly at very low levels.

Waterford

We detected two exceedances for the pesticide Glyphosate in the Villierstown Public Water Supply in 2018.

Cork

We detected exceedances for the pesticide MCPA in the Glanmire, Glengarriff and Macroom Public Water Supplies. An exceedance of 2,4-D has also been detected in the Glanmire PWS. 

Kerry

We detected exceedances for the pesticide MCPA in the Listowel Public Water Supply. While there were no exceedances recorded in 2018 in the Brosna/ Knocknagoshel and Lyreacrompane Public Water Supplies, previous exceedances have however been detected in both supplies.

Tipperary

Exceedances in pesticides are on the increase across Co Tipperary with one exceedance detected during 2018 in the Dundrum Public Water Supply.

Clare

We did not detect any incidents of pesticide exceedances in water supplies in Co. Clare last year.

Limerick

Exceedances in pesticides are on the increase across Co Limerick with exceedances detected during 2018 in the Abbeyfeale (4), Foynes/Shannon Estuary (3) and Newcastle West (1) Public Water Supplies.

Leitrim

We have detected an exceedance for the pesticide picloram in the North Leitrim Regional Water Supply. The detection was made in 2018 following a year of no exceedances for pesticides in Co Leitrim in 2017. 

Galway and Roscommon

We have detected exceedances for the pesticide MCPA in Ballinasloe, Co Galway following two above limit detections in the past two months. We are advising users of pesticides in this area that the Ballinasloe Regional Water Supply scheme could be placed on the EPA’s Remedial Action List if there are a further two exdances for MCPA detected. Ballinasloe takes its water supply from the River Suck and farmers in this catchment that takes in large parts of counties Galway and Roscommon are reminded to be particularly vigilant.

Improper application means MCPA can end up in drinking water

MCPA, which is commonly used to kill rushes on wet land, is the main offender. Careless storage, handling or improper application means it can easily end up in drinking water leading to breaches of the drinking water regulations.

Regulations for pesticides are very stringent

The regulations are so stringent that a single drop of pesticide is enough to breach the drinking water limit in a small stream for up to 30 kilometres. This clearly highlights the level of care needed to protect drinking water sources.

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 such as MCPA 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 (Note that products containing MCPA are NOT approved for use in weed-wipers.)
  • 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

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

Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Leitrim, Limerick, Mayo, Monaghan, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford

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