EPA: Health risks inadequately addressed in some community water supplies

Epa: Health Risks Inadequately Addressed In Some Community Water Supplies
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Microbiological risks to public health are still not being adequately addressed in a small number of private water supplies, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In its Drinking Water Quality Report for private supplies in 2019, the EPA found that the overwhelming majority of households served by community-owned and community-run group water schemes were fully compliant with EU and national water quality standards.


However, a small number were found to contain concerning levels of escherichia coli (E. coli) and enterococci bacteria.

Most E.coli bacteria are harmless, but a few strains can cause illness including severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

Enterococci bacteria also do not typically cause problems in healthy people, but people with underlying health conditions or a weakened immune system may experience illness.


The National Federation of Group Water Schemes (NFGWS), which is the representative and negotiating organisation for community-owned rural water services, welcomed the EPA report on Thursday.


The group said the report’s compliance finding “reflects the significant effort made by the sector over the past 20 years to improve infrastructure and management arrangements, with particular emphasis on maintaining water quality.”

“The NFGWS is fully committed to working with the relevant statutory authorities and with non-compliant schemes to resolve whatever issues need to be addressed,” it said in a statement.

“While the resources for necessary capital upgrades on treatment plants are available under the multi-annual Rural Water Programme, we are aware that such capital equipment is only as good as its management.”

The NFGWS said it was a “core policy objective” to amalgamate smaller water schemes “so that they have sufficient scale to fund the employment of personnel who will oversee both day-to-day management of the supply and its strategic development.”

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