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Weed killer found in Louisburgh water supply


PESTICIDE EXCEEDANCES ‘While the HSE has advised that the levels seen do not represent a threat to public health, it is however undesirable’ – Irish Water rep

Anton McNulty

Irish Water have asked landowners in Louisburgh to take care when using pesticides after a chemical used to treat weeds was found in the local water supply.
An exceedance of the pesticide MCPA was detected in the public drinking water supply in Louisburgh following routine sampling earlier this month. MCPA is a commonly used herbicide present in many products used to control thistles, docks and rushes.
The Louisburgh water supply comes from the Bunnahowan River, which is vulnerable to contamination from land and animal run-off. Whiles the levels detected do not represent a threat to human health, Irish Water is asking users of pesticide products in the Bunnahowan River catchment to consider the vulnerability of the water supplies to pesticide contamination and the importance of this supply to the local community.
Dr Pat O’Sullivan, Irish Water’s Regional Drinking Water Compliance Specialist said: “While the HSE has advised that the levels seen do not represent a threat to public health, it is however undesirable, and it is therefore imperative that users of pesticides are mindful of best practice when spraying their lands.”
Recent drinking-water monitoring results for Ireland show that a number of pesticides commonly used such as Bentazone, Glyphosate, MCPP, MCPA, Clopyralid and Fluroxypyr, are being detected more frequently. Earlier this year, Irish Water asked landowners in the Newport area to be wary of spraying pesticides after chemicals were also discovered in the local water supply.
Irish Water, working in partnership with a range of organisations involved in the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group (NPDWAG), is providing advice and guidance to all users of pesticides including the farming community, greens keepers and grounds keepers and domestic users, to ensure that best practice measures to protect drinking waters are always followed.
Farmers and other landholders dealing with the challenge of tackling rushes should note that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has developed new guidance on the sustainable management of rushes. The new approach is based on the concepts of containment or suppression, and aims to minimise the use of pesticides.
Dr Aidan Moody, DAFM and Chair of NPDWAG commented: “The continued engagement of all stakeholders, working in partnership, is needed to tackle this issue. Users of pesticides should make sure that they are aware of the best practice measures that should be followed to protect water quality.”
The group has asked farmers and users of pesticides not to spray if rain or strong wind is forecast in the next 48 hours and make sure they are aware of the location of all nearby water course. In order to protect the water they are asked to mark out a specified buffer zone from the edge of the river or lake or other water course.