ALERT: Carlow on a watchlist after Metaldhyde detected in water supply to major town

Irish Water has issued a statement

Darren Hassett

Reporter:

Darren Hassett

Email:

news@carlowlive.ie

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Carlow is on a watchlist after Metaldhyde was detected in a water supply to Carlow Town, Irish Water has confirmed. 

Irish Water say there are currently six priority catchment areas of particular concern where exceedances of pesticides are persistent.

These are Longford Central (MCPA), Newcastlewest (MCPA), Belturbet (MCPA), Cavan RWSS (MCPA), Clonroche (Bentazone), and Newport (Glyphosate/MCPA).  

All of these areas are being prioritised for action by members of the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group.

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

A file was opened in 2019 for Metaldhyde on Carlow Town, which receives its water from the Burrin River and Oak Park borehole.

Irish Water said: "The pesticide levels detected in the water supply does not pose any immediate risk to health, but it is imperative that users of pesticides in these areas are mindful of best practice when spraying their lands."

Great care must always be taken to protect 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.

The detected levels sometimes exceed the legally permitted limit 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, working in partnership with a range of organisations involved in the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group (NPDWAG) 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.

Farmers and other landholders dealing with the challenge of tackling rushes should note that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has developed new guidance on the sustainable management of rushes.

The new 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 

Efforts to reduce the incidence of detections are being coordinated by the NPDWAG which is chaired by the DAFM.

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.

Patrick Duggan, Irish Water’s Regional Drinking Water Compliance Specialist said: "At a time of significant challenges for farmers and other essential workers managing land we are asking everyone to continue to be mindful to protect the water bodies.

"While MCPA accounted for the majority (63 per cent) of pesticide exceedances detected nationally in public water supplies during 2019, 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 the Carlow Town water supplies are vulnerable to contamination from land and animal run-off.

"Irish Water asks users of pesticide products in the Burrin River and Oak Park borehole catchment and the boreholes that supply to consider the vulnerability of those water supplies to pesticide contamination and the importance of this supply to the local community."

Dr Aidan Moody, Chair of the NPDWAG said: "A lot of good work has been done and progress has been made. The continued engagement of all stakeholders, working in partnership, is needed to make further progress.

"Users of pesticides should always consider in the first instance if there are alternative non-chemical weed/pest control methods that would be feasible.

"If pesticides have to be applied users must make sure that they are aware of and follow best practice measures to protect water quality."

If pesticides have to be used, the basic steps in reducing risks are:

Choose the right pesticide product (Note that products containing MCPA are NOT approved for use in weed-wipers.)
Read and follow the product label
Determine the right amount to purchase and use
Don’t spray if rain or strong wind is forecast in the next 48 hours
Make sure you are aware of the location of all nearby water courses
Comply with any buffer zone specified on the product label to protect the aquatic environment. Mark out the specified buffer zone from the edge of the river or lake or other water course
Never fill a sprayer directly from a water course or carry out mixing, loading or other handling operations beside a water course
Avoid spills, stay well back from open drains and rinse empty containers 3 times into the sprayer.
Store and dispose of pesticides and their containers properly.
A recently produced video on the correct use of MCPA can be viewed on Irish Water’s YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/xQqtZ7jifUs