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17 May 2022

Pesticide excess detected in Offaly area's public water supply

RHODE

An excess of pesticide has been detected in the public water supply in Rhode

An exceedance of the pesticide MCPA has been detected in the Rhode Public Water Supply system. 

The detection was recently found following zero exceedances in Co. Offaly public drinking water supplies in 2019 and 2020. Irish Water is urging domestic gardeners, farmers, grounds keepers and other users of pesticide products to consider the environment and whether pesticide use is necessary in the first instance.

Irish Water is asking users of any herbicide or pesticide products in the River Boyne catchment to consider the vulnerability of the water supplies to pesticide contamination and the importance of this supply to the local homes and businesses in the community. 

Irish Water, working in partnership with a range of organisations involved in the NPDWAG, is asking the farming community, greens keepers, grounds keepers, and also domestic users of pesticides, to consider in each case whether they need to use pesticides at all. Minimising pesticide use not only helps to protect water quality but also has wider environmental benefits. For example, leaving areas unsprayed can help native flowering plant species to grow and support a range of insects including bees and other vital pollinators. One third of Ireland’s bee species are threatened with extinction and by helping the bee population survive and thrive we are also helping to protect our precious water sources. For more information on practical ways to help bees and other pollinators, check out the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan at www.pollinators.ie. Farmers should also bear in mind that application of herbicides reduces sward species diversity and could negatively impact on payments in future agri-environmental schemes.

Where pesticide use is considered necessary, the NPDWAG is working with local communities to ensure that best practice measures to protect drinking water sources and biodiversity are always followed. Farmers and other landholders dealing with the challenge of rushes should note Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) guidance on the sustainable management of rushes. This approach is based on the concepts of containment or suppression, and aims to minimise the use of pesticides. More information on this can be obtained from your local farm advisor or on www.pcs.agriculture.gov.ie/sud/waterprotection

 The NPDWAG is chaired by the DAFM and involves key stakeholders from a range of Government departments and agencies, local authorities, industry representative bodies, farming organisation, water sector organisations and amenity sector organisations.

Andrew Boylan, Irish Water’s Regional Drinking Water Compliance Specialist said, “In Co Offaly, the exceedance of the drinking water regulations for MCPA was noted in the Rhode Public Water Supply following routine sampling last year. While our consultation with the HSE has concluded that the levels seen do not represent a threat to public health, it is however undesirable and therefore imperative that users of pesticides are mindful of best practice when using herbicides or pesticides and seek out alternatives.”

Adding to this, Dr Aidan Moody, DAFM and Chair of NPDWAG commented: “We need the continued engagement of all stakeholders, working in partnership, make further progress. Users of pesticides must always consider alternatives in the first instance and if the application of pesticides is considered essential make sure that they follow best practice measures to protect water quality.”

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