EPA Statement in relation to lead in drinking water supplies

Date released: Sep 29 2008

There are 944 public water supplies in Ireland.  Every supply must be tested for lead at a defined frequency and must be tested randomly.  The latest results indicate that over 99% of samples taken were compliant with the lead standard.

Since the introduction of the Drinking Water Regulations in March 2007, eleven local authorities have notified the EPA of exceedances of the lead parametric value in relation to 23 out of the 944 public water supplies (See Table 1). 

Four of these supplies required restriction in accordance with a public health notice issued.  These notices were issued by the Health Service Executive in respect to Galway City, Ballintra (Donegal), Bruff (Limerick) and Mallow (Cork) water supplies.

The EPA met with all local authorities in 2008 to review the quality of their water supplies and advise them of the EPA guidance which must be followed.  The EPA has also advised all local authorities that they must carry out lead surveys of their water distribution systems to determine the extent of lead piping in use.

On Friday last, 26th September 2008, the EPA wrote to all local authorities to advise them of the steps that need to be taken if the local authority becomes aware of lead levels in excess of the parametric value in a public water supply.

In the event of an exceedence the local authority are required to:

  • consult with the Health Service Executive to determine whether there is a potential danger to human health;
  • restrict or prohibit use of water or take other action to protect consumers, if such a potential danger to human health exists;
  • ensure consumers are informed of the above actions; and
  • ensure the EPA is promptly notified.

Remedial action can include:

  • resampling and sampling of a larger area;
  • investigating the cause of the failure;
  • additional water treatment; and
  • pipe replacement.

If customers have any concerns about their water supply they should contact their local authority.

In the event that appropriate action is not taken the EPA can direct a local authority to take the appropriate action to prevent, limit, abate or eliminate the risk to human health.  Failure to comply with a Direction is a prosecutable offence.

Table 1: Notifications Received
Local Authority  Water Supply 
 Limerick  Bruff
   Foynes Shanagolden
 Galway City  Fr. Griffin Rd
 Galway  Gort
 North Tipperary  Borrisokane
 Donegal  Ballintra
 Leitrim  South Leitrim RWSS
 Kerry  Baile na Fhertitearaigh
 Cork  Mallow
 Wicklow  Wicklow RWSS
 Carlow  Bagenalstown
 Longford  Ballinalee/Edgeworthstown