Pesticide levels in public drinking water in County Wicklow remained below the safe level throughout 2021, according to irish Water’s latest report.
his is the third successive year in which zero exceedances of the safe limit have been recorded, however, 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.
MCPA is the most commonly detected pesticide in drinking water sources and is present in many herbicide products used to control thistles, docks and rushes. 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.
Irish Water is asking users of any herbicide or pesticide products in Wicklow to consider the vulnerability of the water supplies to pesticide contamination and the importance of these supplies to the homes and businesses in the community.
Andrew Boylan, Irish Water’s Regional Drinking Water Compliance Specialist, said: “In County Wicklow, there have been no exceedances for pesticides in the past three years, which is good news.
“While our consultation with the HSE has concluded that the levels of pesticides that are being detected in drinking water supplies across the country 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.”
A national group called the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group (NPDWAG) has been formed to take action to address pesticides and devise and deliver various awareness raising and educational campaigns. This group has members from numerous state bodies and organisations including the EPA, DAFM, Teagasc, Local Authorities and Irish Water.
Dr Aidan Moody, DAFM and Chair of the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group, said: “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.”
Irish Water stresses that 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.
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.