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Teamwork celebrated with great news for Newport’s water supply

29 September 2023

If ever there was an example where the phrase ‘teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success’ rings true it’s in Newport.

The entire community can celebrate the recent news that the Newport Water Supply has been removed from the EPA’s list of vulnerable water supplies. 

For years, pesticide exceedances in the water were an issue in the area but a targeted team approach has seen the supply removed from the ‘at risk’ list with improvements to the quality of local drinking water that will benefit homes and businesses. 

Uisce Éireann joined forces with a number of agencies, including Teagasc, to form a catchment focus group to tackle the issue and raise awareness that even a tear drop of pesticides can pollute a long stretch of a river. 

Uisce Éireann’s compliance expert Thomas Gibbons, Teagasc’s Mary Roache and representatives from the Local Authority Waters Programme, Mayo County Council, The Department of Agriculture Food and Marine, National Federation of Group Water Schemes and Animal and Plant Health Association can all be proud of the roles they played in reaching the milestone for the community. 

The presence of a supply on the Remedial Action List does not mean the water is unsafe to drink but rather measures need to be put in place to ensure the safety and security of these supplies into the future. In Newport, we needed to put a stop to pesticide exceedances and the entire community worked together to achieve that. Some locals looked after bees at our water treatment plant to raise awareness of the importance of keeping our water sources safe, school children planted trees, and a number of agencies helped spread awareness about pesticide use."

The removal of the Newport supply from the Remedial Action List means that local customers can rest assured that they have a safe, secure drinking water supply now and into the future.” 

As part of the campaign, Teagasc’s Mary Roache got to know the byroads and highroads of Newport like the back of her hand. Her advice on pesticide use to local farmers and contractors has contributed massively to this success story. 

Awareness is key. Some farmers and contractors may not have been aware that a tiny amount of pesticide spray in the water can be easily detected as far as 30km downstream and cause a breach of the limits."

When I visited farmers the first question I asked was ‘do you need to use pesticide spray at all?’. My job is to make farmers think about what they are doing, why they are doing it and if there is an alternative. The advice given is individual to every farmer and completely confidential. Sometimes a small change in behaviour is all that is required. If they are still set on spraying their land, then I go through current regulations and the best practices with them so they can help protect water quality.”

We’re here to help.  Everyone has been in this together; farmers want top quality water too.”