Ex­cess lev­els of pes­ti­cides found in Co Cork drink­ing wa­ter sources

The Corkman - - NEWS - BILL BROWNE

FARM­ERS in Cork have been re­minded of the im­por­tance of ad­her­ing to strict guide­lines when spray­ing pes­ti­cides on their land fol­low­ing de­tec­tions of the MCPA her­bi­cide in drink­ing wa­ter sources.

While Ir­ish Wa­ter has in­sisted the ex­cess lev­els of pes­ti­cide, in­clud­ing those found in the Mac­room wa­ter sup­ply scheme in 2017, posed no threat to public health the, com­pany has said it was “im­per­a­tive” that farm­ers and pes­ti­cide users were mind­ful of best prac­tice when spray­ing their lands.

The com­pany said that it was work­ing closely with the Na­tional Pes­ti­cides and Drink­ing Wa­ter Ac­tion Group (NPDWAG) in an ef­fort to re­duce the num­ber of in­ci­dences where ex­cess lev­els of pes­ti­cides are dis­cov­ered.

Ir­ish Wa­ter’s re­gional drink­ing wa­ter com­pli­ance spe­cial­ist, Deirdre O’Lough­lin, said the com­pany was con­tin­u­ing to in­vest ex­ten­sively across the coun­try to im­prove wa­ter and waste-wa­ter ser­vices.

“Pro­vid­ing safe clean, drink­ing wa­ter for all is our first pri­or­ity. In Ire­land, the ma­jor­ity (82%) of drink­ing wa­ter sup­plies come from wa­ter sources (rivers, lakes and streams) and such sup­plies are vul­ner­a­ble to con­tam­i­na­tion from land and animal run-off,” said Ms O’Lough­lin.

She said that num­ber of sup­plies across Cork had seen the her­bi­cide MCPA de­tected over the past two years, “al­beit mostly at very low lev­els.”

“MCPA is used mainly for erad­i­cat­ing rushes, a prob­lem for many years on Ir­ish farms and one that looks like con­tin­u­ing for many years to come. It is also found in other weed killer for­mu­la­tions used by gar­den­ers and grow­ers, so its use is quite wide­spread.”

Drink­ing wa­ter mon­i­tor­ing re­sults for Ire­land have shown that a num­ber of pes­ti­cides com­monly used on grass­land, such as MCPA, are be­ing de­tected more fre­quently.

Dr Ai­dan Moody, chair of the NPDWAG, said it was im­por­tant that a con­certed ap­proach was taken in ad­dress­ing the is­sue among all stake­hold­ers and that all pes­ti­cide users were aware of the steps that must be taken to pro­tect wa­ter qual­ity.

He said just a sin­gle drop of pes­ti­cide had the po­ten­tial to breach the drink­ing wa­ter limit in a small stream for a ra­dius of up to 30 kilo­me­tres.

“This clearly highlights the po­ten­tial risk fac­ing many of Ire­land’s drink­ing wa­ter sources. In the mod­ern era, the use of pes­ti­cides has played a cen­tral role but the ef­fects of this can be far reach­ing and more and more de­tec­tions of pes­ti­cides in drink­ing wa­ter are be­ing found across the coun­try,” said Dr Moody.

“MCPA, which is com­monly used to kill rushes on wet land, is the main of­fender, and care­less stor­age, han­dling and im­proper ap­pli­ca­tion means it ends up in our drink­ing wa­ter,” he warned.

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