Irish Water has joined forces with six other agencies in Mayo to try to find solutions to an ongoing problem with pesticide exceedances in the Newport public water supply.
The pesticides glyphosate and MCPA have both been detected at levels that exceed the allowed parametric value under EU and Irish regulations and as a result, the Environmental Protection Agency has put the Newport water supply on its Remedial Action List (RAL ) - where it will remain until the issue is resolved.
The RAL is a list of at-risk water supplies. While the HSE has advised that the levels seen do not represent a threat to public health, it is however undesirable and it is therefore imperative that users of pesticides are mindful of best practice when spraying their lands.
Irish Water, Teagasc, the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, Local Authority Water Programme, Mayo County Council, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and the Animal and Plant Health Association (APHA ), have come together to engage in an education and awareness campaign in the Newport area in an effort to encourage users of pesticides to ensure they follow best practice.
Explaining why this collaborative effort is necessary, Irish Water’s drinking water compliance specialist, Dr Pat O’Sullivan, explained: “Irish Water does not have a treatment option to remove pesticides when they are detected in drinking water and the utility does not have enforcement powers in the surrounding catchment area. Therefore it is important that all relevant bodies who can help solve this issue come together to form a catchment focus group to discuss this problem at a local level, pool resources and expertise in a coordinated effort to solve this persistent problem.
“Irish Water wishes to reduce the risk posed by pesticides by raising awareness and through engagement and collaboration. Primarily we do this through our involvement with the National Pesticide and Drinking Water Action Group and through local catchment focus groups where necessary.”
The National Pesticide and Drinking Water Action Group (NPDWAG ) is chaired by the DAFM and was formed to provide a coordinated and collaborative approach to prevent the ongoing prevalence of pesticides in catchments used for the abstraction of drinking water.
Adding to this, Dr Aidan Moody, Chair of NPDWAG commented: “The continued engagement of all stakeholders, working in partnership, is needed to tackle this issue. Users of pesticides must always consider in the first instance if there are alternative non-chemical weed/pest control methods that would be feasible. If pesticides have to be applied, users must make sure that they are aware of and follow best practice measures to protect water quality.”