EPA Remedial Action List (RAL) for Drinking Water Supplies

Date released: Apr 02 2008

On January 24th the EPA released Provision and Quality of Drinking Water in Ireland: A Report for the Years 2006 – 2007. The report was based on the results of over 220,000 individual analyses of drinking water samples. This was the first report since the EPA was given new powers under the EC Drinking Water Regulations. These provide a greater level of consumer protection by requiring public water suppliers to notify the EPA and the Health Service Executive where drinking water fails to meet the standards in the Regulations and also where there is a potential risk to human health, and to comply with directions, if any, issued by the EPA.

One finding in the report, published and highlighted in January (read January press release), was that 339 public water supplies required examination from source to consumer to determine whether replacements or upgrades were needed, or whether operational practices should be improved. View the list referred to in the report here.  These water supplies are currently being placed on a Remedial Action List. 

Remedial Action List (RAL)
A water supply is included on the RAL for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Failure to meet the E. coli standard at some point in the last two years;
  • Inadequate treatment (e.g. no treatment other than chlorination or poor turbidity removal or excessive levels of aluminium in the treated water);
  • Showing elevated levels of nitrate or being unable to meet the new bromate or trihalomethanes standards coming into force at the end of 2008;
  • Monitoring results or compliance checks by the EPA that indicate a lack of operational control at the treatment plant and
  • Supplies were identified by the Health Service Executive (HSE) where improvements are required.

This list will remain a working list, with the possibility of supplies being added or removed as work is completed and further information becomes available.  The fact that a public water supply is on this list does not mean that the water produced by the supply is unsafe to drink.

Enforcement actions by EPA
Following the publication of the report, the list was sent to each local authority for verification, and information was requested on any improvement works taken. Local authorities were then asked to respond to the EPA by February 28th 2008. The EPA is now commencing the process of assessing the information received to date to determine whether a supply:

  • should be replaced;
  • requires capital investment for upgrading and/or
  • requires significant changes in operational practices. 

In some cases this may result in the issuing of legal Directions to local authorities requiring specific works to be carried out. The EPA’s priority is to work to ensure a secure drinking water supply for the Irish public. 

EPA’s new powers under drinking water regulations
Since March 2007 the new powers assigned to the EPA include a responsibility to:

  • Ensure local authorities are taking the appropriate action to ensure that public water supplies comply with the relevant quality standards;
  • Review the actions taken by local authorities in public water supplies where there has been a breach of a standard or any other risk to human health;
  • Review and approve monitoring programmes to ensure that adequate monitoring is carried out by local authorities;
  • Audit local authority water treatment plants and
  • Publish guidance on how local authorities are to implement the Regulations including binding guidelines on auditing.


If a water supply does not meet the drinking water standards the local authority is required to immediately bring this to the attention of the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the EPA.  The local authority is required, under the Drinking Water Regulations, to take immediate action to ensure human health is not compromised.

Any such action has to be taken in consultation with and with the agreement of the HSE - for example, whether or not to issue a boil notice.  Should a drinking water supply become unsafe for consumption at any time, consumers will be notified promptly by their local authority and advised of what precautions to take.