NEW WATER QUALITY REPORT
Saying drinking water quality throughout Ireland is "alarming," a group of researchers has called on Irish policy makers and the public to demand changes to ensure safer drinking water. One of those suggested changes is to put private companies in charge of more water works.
The recommendations appeared in an article in the Dublin-based independent research organization Economic and Social Research Institute's latest quarterly report. The article, compiled by Nicola Commins, Seán Lyons and Richard J.S. Tol, appeared in the Quarterly Economic Commentary, Summer 2009, July 16.
The authors report that in 2007, the fraction of people, by county, whose drinking water failed to meet EU regulations ranges from 52 percent in Cork North to 100 percent in urban areas. Using water quality as a parameter to show the same data, the organization reports that in 2007, 35 of the 48 standards were breached by at least one sample of Irish drinking water. For example, more than 60 percent of the people who were supplied with drinking water in 2007 were supplied water that did not meet the EU quality standard for coliform bacteria.
"At first sight, these results are alarming. There are substances in Irish drinking water that make people ill," the authors wrote.
The article notes monitoring of public water supply systems seems to be working, but questions the efficacy of authorities to correct problems once they are identified. The authors report, "Many sources that reported a problem in 2006 continued to report the same problem in 2007. While some of the problems were adequately dealt with, many other cases of biological and chemical contamination linger. These results are alarming."
Among changes needed to address drinking water quality problems, the authors suggest that county councils "could outsource the operation of drinking water facilities to specialized companies or responsibility for water services could be transferred to a single national authority."