Pesticide exceedances detected in drinking supplies around Ireland

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Exceedances for pesticides continue to be detected in drinking water supplies around Ireland, according to Irish Water.

While the pesticide levels the company is detecting do not pose a health risk, they are ‘nevertheless undesirable and ideally should be as close to zero as possible.’

The amounts are being picked up in drinking water because the water courses from which the company abstracts have been contaminated.

This may be as a result of spraying activities in land close to water courses, inappropriate storage/handling of pesticide product, or even illegal dumping of pesticide containers.

The legal limit for pesticides in drinking water is so low that even the foil cap from a pesticide container is enough to cause an exceedance in a 30km stretch of stream.

Irish Water, working in partnership with a range of organisations involved in the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group is providing advice and guidance to all users of pesticides including the farming community, greens keepers and grounds keepers and domestic users, to ensure that best practice measures to protect drinking waters are always followed.

One of the main pesticides detected in drinking water is MCPA.

This product is mostly used to control growth of rushes, which typically grow in wet, poorly drained land.

Irish Water points out that farmers and other landholders dealing with the challenge of tackling rushes should note that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has developed new guidance on the sustainable management of rushes.

The new approach is based on the principle of containing or suppressing rush growth in the first instance and aims to minimise the use of pesticides.

A key message from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is that spraying rushes is not required to qualify for the Basic Farm Payment and that landowners should bear this in mind when considering to spray or not.

Efforts to reduce the incidence of these detections are being coordinated by the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group.

This group is chaired by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

All of the key stakeholders are represented in this group and include other Government departments and agencies, local authorities, industry representative bodies, farming organisations, water sector organisations, and amenity sector organisations.