Westmeath water of excellent quality - EPA report

The latest report on water quality from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA ) has found that Westmeath’s water quality improved from 2008 to 2009.

Westmeath’s drinking water was found to be of excellent quality, free from E.Coli, and compliant with chemical regulations by the EPA Report on the Provision and Quality of Drinking Water in Ireland.

The report revealed that of the 29 private group water schemes in Westmeath, only one was contaminated with E.Coli during 2009, but the problem was quickly resolved by flushing out the mains. Otherwise, all private group water schemes were free of E.coli contamination and all complied fully with the chemical parameters.

It was also revealed that microbiological compliance levels have improved in public water supplies in Westmeath from 99.4 per cent in 2008 to 100 per cent in 2009, while chemical compliance levels decreased slightly from 99.4 per cent in 2008 to 98.4 per cent in 2009, which was marginally below the national average in 2009 of 99.2 per cent due to elevated lead.

Just one water restriction was issued for a part of the Mullingar public supply affecting 345 people and related to lead piping, but this issue has since been resolved by replacing the lead service connections and this work was completed during 2010.

There were no enforcement actions taken by the EPA against Westmeath County Council in respect of drinking water supplies during 2008 or 2009. In addition, one public water supply in Westmeath was removed from the EPA’s Remedial Action List (RAL ) in 2008. The RAL identifies water supplies requiring improvement works; there are currently no supplies in Westmeath on the RAL.

The EPA report, published last Friday, presents the results of monitoring carried out by local authorities, including Westmeath County Council, during 2008 and 2009 and presents the enforcement actions taken by the EPA under the European Community (Drinking Water ) Regulations (No. 2 ).

The report determines the safety of water supplies in Ireland by comparing the results of monitoring tests carried out on water supplies throughout Ireland with the water quality standards of the drinking water regulations. In Westmeath, 62,225 people are served by public water supplies and 4,475 by private group water schemes.

The Health Services Executive (HSE ), as agents for Westmeath County Council, carried out 8,800 individual tests on drinking water in 2008 and 2009 in accordance with a detailed monitoring programme developed by the council, based on drinking water regulations.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Westmeath county manager, Daniel McLoughlin, said, “Westmeath is fortunate to have excellent water supplies, with modern water treatment facilities in place.

“The water treatment plant at Lough Owel supplies the majority of drinking water in Westmeath and includes sophisticated microfiltration technology that significantly reduces the risk of microbiological contamination. In order to provide the same level of security on all public water supplies, there are ultraviolet disinfection systems on the council’s other water treatment plants to reduce the risk of Cryptosporidium contamination in these supplies too.

“Overall, the EPA report confirms that drinking water in Westmeath continues to be of excellent quality, both from public water supplies and private group schemes.”

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