Mains Water Problems
In many parts of Ireland, water is supplied from lakes, rivers, raintanks and wells, but many sources are from borehole fed group water schemes containing excessively high levels of dissolved lime, with frequent ground water disturbances caused by severe rainfall causing organic colour variations and microbiological issues leading to boil water notices.
An actual average of 250 litres of water is used per household each day, (400 litres is the audited figure including leaks) for all uses: flushing toilets, bathing, watering gardens, etc.
Only 1% of mains fed water is used for drinking, but as 99% is used for the likes of bathing, washing and flushing toilets, the idea of using exceptional quality secondary filtration such as reverse osmosis water filtering and water softening is unlikely to be offered at source by rural water schemes due to to the impossible funding limitations to provide above bottled water quality for the ultimate use of bathing and flushing toilets even if basic EU water limits are just aimed to be met.
So exceptional filtration for the 1% of water we use for drinking and the 99% of household water use for lime removal, is only practical when met by end users. Surprisingly, Galway had a high compliance to EU water standards historically, compared to other counties, but many schemes failed to provide superior water quality for domestic use for reasons listed below:
- Historically, many smaller group water schemes sourced their water on limited budgets without pilot testing - (drilling several test bores to optimum depths to get the best water.)
- Because small schemes often drilled just to find water quantity - the expense later on to treat poor water to more demanding levels of legislation may have been prohibitive.
- Even if quality water is found at source, old pipe networks can often leak the water supplied with the risk of bacterial infection finding its way back into the supply at leak points.
- Group water schemes are “reactive” instead of “proactive” to water problems, relying on occasional HSE water monitoring to inform residents affected by any contamination.
- Boil water notices are usually posted to the local shop after detection of bacteria on a particular group water scheme instead of all scheme residents being notified individually.
- Lime is no danger to health and is found at high levels on most schemes. Water regulations do not set any limits for lime levels, yet it causes extensive and costly damage.
- Surprisingly, 3 things that put people off water; odour, colour and taste, have less importance as testing parameters, even when recipients of scheme water voice objections.
- Bacteria has always been given serious priority and has sample limits of “zero” in water tests, making chlorine dosing essential to mains water adding to taste and smell.
- Micro-organisms such as cryptosporidium evade chlorination and small group schemes, even large city schemes have not invested money to upgrade and deal with problems.
- Annual spring flooding has an adverse pressure on the source water quality of a great number lake, river and borehole sourced waters, leading to long periods of contamination.
- Water pressure on many schemes is poorly regulated and if insufficient or excessively high, too many schemes rarely address pressure variations promptly and correctly
- It is unlikely for water schemes to address 1) all infrastructural mains problems and 2) meeting total compliance of EU directives and 3) free of water hardness and 4) to an exceptionally consistent level of potable quality against the problems of severe weather variations causing frequent highly disturbed ground water quality - all issues to be combated to the ultimate point of total consumer satisfaction and trust.