Keeping your water safe
Prevention is better than cure; a regular, simple practise of water sampling can help stop harmful bacteria living in your water system and help prevent an outbreak of legionnaires disease and other illnesses.
Routine sampling helps to safeguard the health and well-being of building occupants, tenants, and visitors to any facility.
In February 2021 Ireland’s EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) who are responsible for enforcing the Drinking Water Regulations for public and private water supplies, released their 2019* reports and have warned “The quality of drinking water in private water supplies is not good enough and is putting health at risk.”
While the report states that the quality of drinking water in public supplies remains high, it showed that:
- More than 100 private water supplies failed to meet the bacterial standards for drinking water with one million people in Ireland get their drinking water from a private supply and many more drink water from small private supplies like hotels, pubs and restaurants, crèches, nursing homes and national schools in their daily lives.
- 88 of the 1,418 small private supplies monitored, failed to meet the standards relating to bacteria, which is the most important indicator of safe drinking water.
- One in five known small private supplies were not monitored in 2019. Critically, 19 per cent of registered small private supplies, serving food businesses, nursing homes, creches and B&Bs, were not monitored – If a supply has not been monitored, “it makes it impossible to be confident that the water is safe to drink”, the report adds.
Director of the EPA Office of Environmental Enforcement Dr Tom Ryan said consumers should be confident that their water is safe to drink.
“Water suppliers are obliged to make sure their water supply is clean and wholesome and is in compliance with the water quality standards. It is critical that monitoring is undertaken and, if issues are identified, action must be taken to protect human health.”
Make sure your water supply is safe
Depending on where you live, your water supply comes from a public water supply operated by Irish Water, a private water supply such as group water schemes or your own household well.
Water, whether for a public municipality, water facility or business/home, must be tested regularly to make sure it is safe and free of potential health/environmental risks.
Harmful bacteria, parasites, and viruses are invisible to the naked eye, so water which may look good may not be safe to drink. These microbes can exist in surface and groundwater supplies and can cause sickness in humans if not properly treated.
While the EPA has identified the most important issues, to protect and improve drinking water supplies on a national level, if you are responsible for supplying water, to allow a smooth run for your business you must monitor your water to ensure it is safe and clean.
Drinking water quality is measured by taking samples and testing the drinking water within an area, for various parameters which include:
Bacteria are microscopic organisms that can survive in many different environments. They usually enter the water supply when the source water becomes contaminated. Some of the bacteria which can be found include:
- E – Coli
Several species of Bacteria are pathogenic, meaning they can cause infection, disease, or illness in other living things. They can also be parasitic, meaning they live off other living things, but can cause illness in the process.
Chemicals are tested in drinking water to determine if they are present and, if so, are they within acceptable limits. Chemical parameters that are present in drinking water can be caused by chemicals dissolving into water from pipes, chemicals carrying over from the treatment process, chemical reactions occurring between different materials in the water, or even runoff from the environment.
Metals occur naturally in the environment, where some metals are essential for life others, such as Lead and Mercury, are not essential and can have negative effects on health. Copper is an example of a metal that is essential in your diet but is toxic at high concentrations.
This parameter grouping includes all other tests not including Bacteria & Protozoa, Chemicals, and Metals. Testing for these parameters is required to signal if there is a potential problem with the water supply that requires investigation or that may point to a more serious problem
In Summary, frequent testing is important ensure you are providing a clean and safe supply of drinking water by:
- Identify existing problems
- Preventing issues that may arise
- Ensuring water is suitable for the intended use, especially if used for drinking by humans and animals
- Tracking any changes over time
The quality of a water source may change over time, even suddenly and by monitoring your water any changes won’t go unnoticed even if the water may look, smell, and taste the same.
Here at Aquachem we have a team of specialists with over 40 years’ technical experience in the water treatment industry, including a Microbiologist, who can help you assess what type of testing you require and carry out the water sampling. After these are sent to the lab and the results are back we can advise of a tailored treatment plan and action same.
Water suppliers, local authorities and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage need to act to improve the quality of private drinking water so that human health is protected.
View Drinking Water Quality in Public Supplies 2019