CRYPTO PARASITE IN MILLSTREET DRINKING WATER
PARASITE FOUND FIVE TIMES IN TWO MONTHS, SAYS EPA REPORT
IRISH WATER has been told to prioritise the disinfection of the supply to Millstreet following the discovery of a parasite in the local supply on five occasions over the past two months.
A drinking water audit undertaken by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initially revealed the presence of cryptosporidium – a microscopic parasite that can cause gastroenteritis – in the local water supply on two dates in September.
It has emerged that three further incidents of the parasite in the supply, which is sourced primarily from the uncovered Tubrid Spring and serves a population of 3,800 people in the locality, had been reported in October.
In an audit report on their findings the EPA noted that “at present there is no treatment barrier in place to prevent cryptosporidium” – this despite the fact that a 2015 assessment of the local supply found the risk of the parasite entering the supply had increased to a “very high” status.
“The monitoring programme, which commenced in August 2016, has found cryptosporidium oocysts in the treated water on each sampling occasion since September 20,” read the EPA audit report.
However, the report pointed out that the HSE had not reported any instances of illness in the area being served by the supply.
“Irish water needs to prioritise the installation of a cryptosporidium barrier in order to ensure the safety and security of the Millstreet public water supply,” read the report.
As a result of the findings the Millstreet supply has now been added to the EPA’s remedial action list, the purpose of which is to focus Irish Water’s attention on resolving the moist serious deficiencies in public water supplies.
Currently, there are 108 supplies across the country serving almost 947,000 people on the priority list, six of which are located in Cork city and county.
The EPA pointed out the Tubrid Spring, which supplies 90% of local drinking water, was uncovered and located in an area that was accessible to the public, who regard it as a holy well, and visitors would not be aware that it was the main source of drinking water for Millstreet.
While the EPA confirmed that no “unusual activities” had been detected in the catchment area of the spring prior to the detection of the parasite, it advised Irish Water to liaise with Cork County Council to ensure farm and septic tanks were undertaken at nearby houses.
It also ordered the company to take action to ensure the spring was fenced off and secure to prevent animal access and that entrance gates were closed at all times.
It was also instructed to make sure that a small hole over the clear water sump was sufficiently sealed to prevent contamination to treated water and that an ultra violet transmittance monitor, which the company had admitted had been offline periodically since it was installed last May, was “operational at all times.”
The EPA ordered Irish Water to submit a report detailing how it has dealt with the “issues of concern” identified in the audit.
“The report should include details on action taken and plans to address the various recommendations (in the audit), including a time frame for the completion of any planned works,” said the EPA.