Pesticides found in drinking water supplies in two Cork towns

Irish Water detected MCPA and Triclopyr in the public drinking water supplies in Glanmire and Youghal in 2021
Pesticides found in drinking water supplies in two Cork towns

'These pesticides can have serious effects on consumption – eye irritation, skin sensitivities and mild toxicity,' said Cork TD Thomas Gould. Picture: Sam Boal.

IRISH Water is asking the public to consider using alternatives to pesticides this summer after exceedances of two pesticides were found in Cork’s water supplies.

It was revealed today that MCPA and Triclopyr were detected in the public drinking water supplies in Glanmire and Youghal in 2021.

MCPA, the most commonly detected pesticide in drinking water, is present in many herbicide products used to control thistles, docks and rushes. Triclopyr, meanwhile, is used to control broadleaf and woody plants.

Deirdre O’ Loughlin, Irish Water’s Regional Drinking Water Compliance Specialist, said that the levels do not represent a threat to public health.

“While our consultation with the HSE has concluded that the levels we are detecting do not represent a threat to public health, they are still undesirable in drinking water,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“It is therefore imperative that users of pesticides are mindful of best practice when using herbicides or pesticides and seek out alternatives.”

Mistrust and fear 

Commenting on the news, Cork North Central TD Thomas Gould said that the detections were “extremely concerning” 

“These pesticides can have serious effects on consumption – eye irritation, skin sensitivities and mild toxicity,” Mr Gould said.

“I have written to Irish Water seeking a full update on the Action Plan they intend to implement to address this.

“Asking people not to use pesticides can only be one step in this plan. They did this in 2021. It obviously didn’t work and more is needed now before somebody becomes ill.

“People need to be able to trust their drinking water. News like this will harbour mistrust and fear.” 

Advice 

The Glanmire water supply abstracts raw water from Coolquesk Bridge, Kilquana Bridge, and Butlerstown, while the Youghal water supply abstracts raw water from the Glendine River.

Irish Water is asking the farming community, groundskeepers, and also domestic gardeners in these areas - and throughout the county of Cork - to consider whether they really need to use pesticides.

Where pesticide use is considered necessary, users are reminded that products containing MCPA are not approved for use in weed-wipers and are not permitted in the winter months.

It is also advised not to use pesticides when rain is forcasted, to stay back from open drains, and to comply with specifided buffer zones in order to protect water sources.

Overall, Irish Water said that there was a significant reduction in the number of exceedances for pesticides in public drinking water supplies in Cork last year.

In 2020, six exceedences were detected in supplies in Bantry, Glanmire, Glashaboy, and Glengarriff.

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