Waterford City Council has welcomed the latest Environmental Protection Agency report on drinking water testing conducted in 2007 and enforcement activities involving the EPA in 2008.

The analysis looked at over 1,200 individual tests conducted by the Council during ’07 on the water supply serving over 45,000 people. The agency found the overall compliance rate was 99 per cent.

In the case of E. coli and Enterococci testing, all samples analysed in 2007 complied with the relevant standards. Similarly, the EPA found compliance was 98.5 per cent when measuring indicators. This was above the national average.

“The agency also noted improvements to the city water supply including the installation of booster chlorine disinfection systems linked with chlorine residual monitors and alarms at reservoirs in the city. It also recorded that the treatment plant operated by Waterford County Council at Adamstown and serving Waterford city has a chlorine monitor and alarm system.

Colette Byrne, City Council Director of Services, commented: “The results from sampling during 2007 represent a positive endorsement of the major investment that has been made in the treatment works at Adamstown to ensure a safe and reliable water supply to consumers in Waterford city.

“A continuous water supply to our homes and workplaces can be something we all take for granted and attention tends to spike only when there is a problem. This EPA report confirms the agency received no notifications of failure to meet standards between March 2007 and September 2008.”

Ms Byrne also said that the Council has recently received reports from homeowners who have tasted increased chlorine levels in their domestic water supply.

“This is a direct consequence of the upgrading works undertaken in the recent past and, specifically, the disinfection system which sees chlorine levels in water boosted from time to time. The additional chlorine is within safe parameters and not a cause for public health concern.”

Last October/November excess levels of lead were identified in the public water supply in two old residential areas close to the city centre. The Council took steps to adjust the pH level measuring acidity and alkalinity in the supply at the Adamstown plant.

Taps’ contents in county clean too

The recently published EPA Drinking Water Quality Report for 2007-’08 showed a 99% compliance rate for public schemes in County Waterford.

Waterford County Council has 104 public water supply schemes, representing 11% of the total number in all of Ireland.

The sheer number of small schemes gives rise to significant challenges in terms of monitoring and improving water quality.

Putting it in context, Michael Quinn, Director of Services, says: “We have almost as many schemes as Cork County Council but, in contrast, their schemes serve a consumer population in excess of 300,000.”

Despite this, of almost 5,000 individual tests carried out by Waterford County Council, only 10 showed either bacteriological or chemical exceedance.

The Council carries out an extensive testing programme on water used for human consumption.

Testing is carried out by the HSE on an agency basis and results of any exceedences are notified to the consumers and the appropriate agencies usually within 24 hours.

There was a single marginal exceedance for arsenic in the Ballyogarty supply in November 2007. A monitoring programme showed subsequent results to be satisfactory.

There were exceedances of the nitrate standard in six supplies the same year, namely at Adramone, Kealfoun, Kilnafrehan, LCB Ballyhane, LCB Monument and Rathgormack. The Council is satisfied that there is no cause for public concern, due to the nature of the exceedances; however, remedial action programmes have been put in place.

The County Council also operates the Water Treatment Plant serving the City and East Waterford. The overall rate of compliance for the city was 99%, with e-coli compliance at 100%.

Michael Quinn confirmed that the County Council invested in excess of €1.5m last year to improve water quality and in 2009 plans to spend a further €1.1m on similar projects.

By the end of the year all County Waterford public water schemes will have chlorine monitors, back-up pumps and alarms. [Jamie O’Keeffe]