Drinking Water

Who is responsible for the production and monitoring of Drinking Water?

From 1st January 2014 Irish Water is responsible for the production, distribution and monitoring of drinking water from over 962 public water supplies, serving 83% of the population. 

The remainder of the population is supplied by group water schemes (6.1%), small private supplies (0.9%) and private wells (11.1%) that are exempt under the Regulations.  Responsibility for the water quality rests with the manager/operator of the supply.

Irish Water is responsible for the monitoring of public water supplies and the local authorities are responsible for monitoring of group water schemes and regulated small private supplies.  The Environmental Protection Agency produces annual reports based on these monitoring results.  As of 2015, the EPA produces a separate Public Supply Drinking Water Report and Private Supply Drinking Water Report.  Previous to 2015 a single report was produced outlining drinking water quality in both public and private supplies.

Enforcement of Drinking Water Quality

New drinking water regulations came into force in 2014.  These regulations provide the EPA with supervisory powers for public water supplies.  The EPA can direct Irish Water to improve the management or quality of a public water supply.  The local authorities have a similar supervisory role in relation to group water schemes and private supplies.  Under the regulations Irish Water must notify the EPA of drinking water non-compliances or risk to public health from a public water supply.  The EPA has published a handbook on the implementation of the regulations to provide guidance to water suppliers.  The EPA also publishes water treatment manuals and advice notes to provide practical guidance to water suppliers.  An explanation of the significance of each of the parameters listed in the drinking water regulations is available here.

EPA Drinking Water Audits

The EPA carries out audits of public drinking water supplies.  These audits are an important way of checking how the water supplier is performing and ensuring that the Drinking Water Regulations are being complied with.  The EPA audits examine a number of areas which may include the water source, the water treatment works, management of the distribution system, sampling and analytical methods used and consumer contacts about water quality.  When selecting supplies to audit, the EPA adopts a risk-based approach to ensure that the supplies in most need of attention have a greater degree of inspection and enforcement.

The EPA prepares a report following the audit which summarise the main findings on the day of the audit.  Where the EPA finds any deficiencies, recommendations will be made in the audit report as to the actions the water supplier needs to take to put things right.  Most recommendations are quite technical in nature and do not necessarily mean there is an immediate threat to drinking water quality.  The water supplier is required to reply within the timeframe specified in the audit report setting out what it has done or proposes to do, to satisfy those recommended actions.  The EPA tracks the water supplier's progress in carrying out these actions.

The EPA profiled all water supplies in 2008 and identified supplies in need of upgrading, replacement or improved operational control.  This list (the RAL) was published and is updated quarterly by the EPA.  Further information on the RAL.

Online Drinking Water Notification System for Water Services Authorities

An online system for the notification of exceedances of the parametric values set by the 2014 Drinking Water Regulations to the EPA by water suppliers (for public supplies only) is only accessible by means of a unique Username and Password supplied by the EPA.  A user manual and training videos are available at ODWNS Training Videos.  Queries on the use of the Online Drinking Water Notification System should be directed to drinkingwater@epa.ie.

Learn more

Drinking Water Report

Drinking Water Safety Plans

Remedial Action List

Source Protection

Download drinking water datasets (Look for 'Drinking water monitoring results and water supply details for Ireland' in the list)

 Find out general information on drinking water on the Citizens Information website