In Ireland, our drinking water usually comes from lakes, rivers and artificial reservoirs, particularly those used for public water supplies. Private sector suppliers and group water schemes tend to rely more on groundwater and spring water. Groundwater and springs contribute to about 16% of the total drinking water supplied nationally, while this rises to 86% in some rural areas. Before it reaches your home water goes through several treatment stages (covered in the next section). Once treated, it is pumped through an extensive pipe network until it reaches your home.
Once we have used the water that comes into our homes and it is discharged into the drainage network, it follows a series of treatment processes before it once again flows into lakes, rivers and the sea. Sedimentation, aeration and settlement are all part of the process, which has been animated here.
Drinking Water Regulations
The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government developed a National Drinking Water Monitoring Programme in 2004 (see National Drinking Water Monitoring Programme) to ensure that our testing regimes and standards were in line with the European Drinking Water Standards.
The European Communities (Drinking Water) (No. 2) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 278 of 2007) were made on 12 June 2007. These regulations transpose outstanding aspects of the EU Drinking Water Directive into Irish Law by underpinning comprehensive supervision and maintenance regimes for both sanitary authority and group water scheme supplies. They also provide for increased penalties for non-compliance.
Under the drinking water regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency is the supervisory body 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 small private supplies. Under the regulations, Irish Water must notify the EPA of drinking water quality failures or risk to public health from a public water supply. More information is available here.
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