Opening the Environmental Protection Agency's Water Conference
in Galway on 11 June 2008, Mr Michael Kitt TD, Minister of
State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local
Government, spoke of the range of measures being taken to
ensure that drinking water quality in Ireland meets National
and EU standards.
The Minister said that - "substantial capital investment
for necessary infrastructure - along with a stricter regulatory
framework - are key aspects of the overall strategy".
The Minister added that 2008 has been a watershed year in
terms of how the quality of drinking water supply systems
is monitored and measured. Previously, the main focus was
on point sampling, which only provided a snapshot of water
New and more comprehensive powers given to the EPA, now allow
the Agency - "to look at all aspects of supply from source
to tap, including reviewing historical failures to meet E.
coli or other standards" - the Minister said.
The Minister confirmed that, earlier this year, the EPA had
identified 339 public water supply schemes that required profiling
from catchment to consumer to determine whether the supply
needed to be replaced or upgraded - or, where operational
practices needed to be improved.
However, he added that a multi-agency working group (involving
his Department, the EPA, the Health Services Executive and
local authorities) had - "in the short time since, pinpointed
the deficiencies in each case and identified solutions to
He said that funding for necessary upgrading works had now
been allocated under his Department's Water
Services Investment Programme and that local authorities
would be pressing ahead urgently with the remedial measures.
Commenting on the pressures on water services caused by unprecedented
social and economic growth in recent years, the Minister said
that - "managing and balancing complex competing demands
to ensure that clean and safe drinking water is available
to sustain public health and to maintain social and economic
development" - would continue to be a key challenge for