Irish Water

Irish Water warn farmers and other users in Louth against overuse of pesticides

Irish Water say pesticide exceedances continue in Louth this year

Donard McCabe


Donard McCabe

Irish Water warn farmers and other users in Louth against overuse of pesticides

Irish Water warn farmers and other users in Louth against overuse of pesticides

Irish Water have issued a statement today, appealing to all users of pesticides in Louth, including the farming community, sporting organisations and domestic users, to ensure that best practice measures to protect drinking waters are always followed.

Working in partnership with a range of organisations involved in the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group (NPDWAG), Irish Water advise that great care must always be taken to safeguard drinking water supplies wherever pesticide use is considered necessary, particularly if using products for grassland weed control containing substances such as MCPA, fluroxypyr and 2,4-D.

These substances and others have been detected in drinking water supplies across Ireland. While there is no threat to public health, Irish Water say that the detected levels sometimes exceed the legally permitted limit value for pesticides in drinking water, which is set at an extremely low value (equivalent to one drop in an Olympic-sized swimming pool).

Irish Water say there is a watch list, currently comprising over 20 supplies, which is a focus for targeted actions, since the pattern of detections in these areas indicates a risk of persistent pesticide exceedances.

Ardee, Cavanhill and Tallanstown supplies in Louth are on the watch list and while the pesticide levels detected in these water supplies do not pose any immediate risk to health, it is imperative that users of pesticides are mindful of best practice when spraying their lands.

Commenting Andrew Boylan Irish Water’s Regional Drinking Water Compliance Specialist said:

“These latest MCPA exceedances in both Ardee and Cavanhill public supplies are the second exceedances in 2019 to date. While MCPA accounted for the majority (75 per cent) of pesticide exceedances detected nationally in public water supplies during 2018, Irish Water routinely tests for a wide range of pesticides and is closely monitoring the situation for pesticides other than MCPA.

"Irish Water is continuing its extensive investment programme to safeguard the water supply for homes, farms and businesses in Ireland. Providing safe, clean drinking water for all is our first priority. In Ireland, the majority (82 per cent) of drinking water supplies come from surface water sources such as rivers, lakes and streams.

"Supplies such as Ardee, Cavanhill and Tallanstown public water supplies are vulnerable to contamination from land and animal run-off. Irish Water asks users of pesticide products in the River Dee, Fane and Glyde catchments to consider the vulnerability of the Ardee, Cavanhill and Tallanstown drinking water supplies to pesticide contamination and the importance of these supplies to the local community.”

MCPA, which is commonly used to kill rushes on wet land, is the main offender, however, other pesticides such as 2,4-D, fluroxypyr and MCPP (also known as mecoprop) are being detected more frequently than in previous years.

Careless storage, handling or improper application of any pesticide product can easily result in traces ending up in drinking water, leading to breaches of the drinking water regulations. Users of pesticides are asked to carefully consider how these products may access water courses via rainwater drains, drainage channels or other means before application.

The regulations are so stringent that a single drop of pesticide is enough to breach the drinking water limit in a small stream for up to 30 kilometres. This clearly highlights the level of care needed to protect drinking water sources.

A recently produced video on the correct use of MCPA can be viewed on Irish Water’s YouTube channel here.