Pesticide levels in Wicklow’s drinking water are safe, but Irish Water urges use to be reduced to protect the environment

Pesticide levels in public drinking water in County Wicklow remained below safe levels throughout 2021, according to the latest report from Irish Water.

This is the third year in a row that there have been zero safe limit exceedances, however, Irish Water urges home gardeners, farmers, groundskeepers and other users of pesticide products to consider the environment and whether the use of pesticides is necessary in the first instance.

MCPA is the most frequently detected pesticide in drinking water sources and is present in many herbicide products used to control thistles, docks, and rushes. Farmers and other landowners facing the sedge challenge should consider the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) guidance on sustainable management of sedges.

Irish Water asks users of herbicide or pesticide products in Wicklow to consider the vulnerability of water supplies to pesticide contamination and the importance of these supplies to homes and businesses in the community.

Andrew Boylan, Irish Water Regional Drinking Water Compliance Specialist, said: “In County Wicklow, there have been no excess pesticides in the last three years, which is good news.

“While our consultation with HSE has concluded that the levels of pesticides being detected in drinking water supplies across the country do not pose a threat to public health, it is nonetheless undesirable and therefore imperative that pesticide users take best practices into account. when using herbicides or pesticides and look for alternatives.”

A national group called the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group (NPDWAG) has been formed to take action to address pesticides and design and carry out various educational and awareness campaigns. This group has members from numerous state agencies and organizations including EPA, DAFM, Teagasc, Local Authorities and Irish Water.

Dr Aidan Moody, DAFM and Chairman of the National Action Group on Pesticides and Drinking Water, said: “We need continued engagement from all stakeholders, working in partnership, to keep moving forward.

“Pesticide users should always consider alternatives in the first instance and if pesticide application is considered essential, make sure they follow best practices to protect water quality.”

Irish Water emphasizes that minimizing pesticide use not only helps protect water quality, but also has broader environmental benefits. For example, leaving areas unsprayed can help native flowering plant species grow and support a variety of insects, including bees and other vital pollinators.

A third of Ireland’s bee species are endangered and by helping the bee population survive and thrive we are also helping to protect our precious water sources. For more information on practical ways to help bees and other pollinators, check out the All Ireland Pollinator Scheme at www.pollinators.ie.

When pesticide use is deemed necessary, the NPDWAG is working with local communities to ensure best practices are always followed to protect drinking water sources and biodiversity.

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