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19 Jan 2022

Pesticide levels a cause for concern at Limerick treatment plants

Pesticide levels a cause for concern at Limerick treatment plants

Irish Water are investing €65m in a Limerick Disinfection Programme and 19 plants in Limerick have been upgraded and standardised so far I Picture: Irish Water

TWO water treatment plants, supplying over 16,000 people, remain on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Remedial Action List because of elevated levels of pesticide.

The two schemes are Newcastle West supplying 9,448 people and Foynes/Shannon supplying 7,023 people.

Meanwhile, according to Irish Water, the problems at Fedamore water treatment plant, which was also on the EPA’s list, have now been resolved.

A new groundwater source along with filtration and ultraviolet disinfection processes are now in place and a long-standing boil water notice was lifted in mid-December.

“It is important to note that a supply being listed on the Remedial Action List (RAL) does not mean it is non-compliant with drinking water standards and/or the water is unsafe to drink,” a spokesman for Irish Water told the Limerick Leader.

“This list identifies supplies that the EPA deem as being ‘at risk’ and must be improved to ensure that water supplies continue to be safe to drink and are also secure in the future.”

Irish Water has a plan in place for all the plants on the Remedial Action List, he added. In relation to the Newcastle West and Foynes/Shannon schemes, the spokesman said, the Pesticide Action Procedure is being applied.

“Irish Water firmly believes that education, awareness, and where necessary / applicable, enforcement on responsible pesticide use is the most appropriate and holistic approach to minimising pesticide levels in drinking water,” the spokesman continued.

“Pesticides should not be present in the source waters (i.e. aquatic environment) used to produce drinking water. The ownership and responsibility to address this issue in the aquatic environment is extremely complex and lies with numerous stakeholders.”

“Great care must always be taken to protect drinking water supplies wherever pesticide use is considered necessary, particularly if using products for grassland weed control containing substances such as MCPA, fluroxypyr and 2,4-D. These substances and others have been detected in drinking water supplies across Ireland. While there is no threat to public health, the detected levels sometimes exceed the legally permitted limit value for pesticides in drinking water, which is set at an extremely low value (equivalent to one drop in an Olympic-sized swimming pool).”

Irish Water also says that it is investing €65m in a Limerick Disinfection Programme and 19 plants have in Limerick have been upgraded and standardised so far.

The EPA is working in conjunction with Limerick City and County Council to complete a full assessment of water treatment plants in the county and city.

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