The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking action in Ireland and addressing water quality issues with a public utility company named Irish Water. The EPA has conducted audits at 19 public water supply utilities, and has issued 11 important directives to Irish Water. The public water utility is working with the EPA to fix some major issues that threaten the health of the public. These issues include addressing the increasing pesticide contamination of drinking water, the formation of carcinogenic trihalomethanes (THMs), and installing better treatment protocols to stop cryptosporidium parasites from entering drinking water.
Boil orders double from previous year
Overall, 108 water supplies have been deemed “at risk” and in need of upgrades and improvements. According to the Drinking Water Report for 2015, 37 of these supplies contain inadequate treatment methods for stopping cryptosporidium, an infectious parasite that can cause respiratory and gastrointestinal illness. There were 35 boil water orders sent out through the country last year, some of which were in place for the entire year. According to the EPA’s Gerard O’Leary, boil orders have gone up twofold from a year ago.
“So far this year, 86,000 people have had to boil their water to make it safe. This is more than twice as many as last year. Without investment to address the deficiencies in supplies, this type of water restriction will continue to occur,” said O’Leary.
MCPA pesticide pervasive throughout water samples
Sixty-one samples tested measured high for pesticides, with 41 testing high for a specific pesticide called MCPA. This herbicide is used liberally on grasslands to control thistles and ragwort. The EPA found elevated levels of pesticides in Ennis, Shannon, Sixmilebridge, Ennistymon and West Clare. Pesticides are not inert substances that just disappear into the ground. These pesticides can cause long term health issues as they make their way from the tap into the cells of the human body.
High THM levels threaten human fertility
Fifty-nine of the high risk supplies contained high levels of trihalomethanes (THMs). These toxic byproducts are the result of chlorine mixing with other elements in the raw water. These THMs are carcinogenic by nature, and can cause reproductive problems in humans. The report was most concerned with high THM levels in Donegal and Kerry counties. Ireland’s public water utilities routinely exceed the THM standards set by the European Commission; therefore, Europe has begun its own infringement proceedings against Ireland for high THM levels.
The EPA is calling on a national strategy to address the disturbing situation of high THM levels. Other problems the EPA intends to address include the removal of lead piping from public buildings and homes. Other upgrades include new management of aging water reservoirs and distribution networks. For the sake of public health, the EPA has declared prompt enforcement action to push Irish Water into compliance.
The situation is only destined to get more complicated in Ireland and around the globe, as pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, heavy metals, pharmaceutical-rich biosolids and a plethora of other environmental contaminants come together and pollute drinking water. To ensure water purity, consumers have one choice at this crossroads of collapse: Invest in a lab verified water filtration system.
Author: L.J. Devon