EPA welcomes publication of national strategy to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water

Date released: Jun 09 2015

EPA welcomes publication of the National Strategy to Reduce Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water

The EPA welcomes the publication today, by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government and the Department of Health, of the National Strategy to Reduce Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water.  Commenting on the strategy Mr. Gerard O’ Leary, Director, EPA Office of Environmental Enforcement said:

“People should try to drink water with as little lead as possible, especially those who are most vulnerable, such as pregnant women, babies and young children. The drinking water quality standard for lead has progressively been reduced from 50µg/l prior to 2004 to 25µg/l and more recently to 10µg/l in 2014.”

The presence of Lead in drinking water arises from the use of Lead pipework, which was common in building construction up until the 1970’s. The responsibility for actions to reduce levels of Lead in drinking water now requires action on behalf of Irish Water and other water suppliers, property owners (public or private) and personnel installing or carrying out works on water supply pipes.  The EPA has required Irish Water to prepare a national plan on how it will deal with Lead in the public supply and how it will communicate with consumers.

 Concluding Mr. O’Leary stated that:

“The EPA will report on a regular basis on the strategy’s long-term national objective to reduce peoples’ exposure to Lead in drinking water.”

Further information: Niamh Hatchell/ Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours) or media@epa.ie

Notes to Editor:

  • Nationally there is approximately 60,000km of water mains.
  • Following the publication of the Advice Notes 1 and 2 on Lead the EPA identified all remaining Lead mains in the country.  The EPA initiated enforcement action and issued legally binding Directions requiring their removal from all five of the supplies identified (Ennis, Mallow, Granard, Longford Central and Tralee).  All Lead mains have now been replaced.
  • The water metering programme to date has identified Lead communication pipes (i.e. from the main to the water meter) or service connections (from the water meter to the house) in approx. 5% of properties metered to date.
  • An estimated 30-40,000 houses are served by communal Lead backyard services.  Irish Water will need to outline how they will address these in their national plan.
  • Monitoring data for 2013 shows that 2.2% of samples analysed reported Lead levels in excess of 10ug/l.


Irish Water Responsibility for providing and developing water services through public water supplies. They must ensurethat regular monitoring of public water supplies takes plance.
EPA Supervisory authority over Irish Water with responsibility for ensuring that the drinking water quality standards are met in public water supplies.
 HSE Responsible for the protection fo public health. Where there is a failure to meet the drinking water standards Irish Water must consult with the HSE to determine if there is a risk to public health.
Commission for Energy Regulations Responsible for ensuring that Irish Water provides services in an economic and efficient manner.
Local Authorities Responsible for the management and operation of public water supplies on behalf of Irish Water through Service Level Agreements.