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Pesticide detected again in Newport water supply


Anton McNulty

An exceedance of the pesticide MCPA has once again been detected in the Newport public drinking water supply, despite concentrated efforts by Irish Water and local stakeholders to eradicate the problem.
Irish Water confirmed that it detected the presence MCPA in the water supply in Newport and that this is the eighth detection for MCPA and Glyphosate in this catchment in the last two years. MCPA is an active substance present in many commonly used herbicide products used to control the growth of thistles, docks and rushes.
The Newport water supply abstracts raw water from the Newport River which is vulnerable to runoff from land and as a a result of the latest detection, the EPA has put Newport on its priority list.
Irish Water is asking users of any herbicide or pesticide products in the Newport catchment to consider the vulnerability of the water supply to pesticide contamination and the importance of this supply to the local homes and businesses in the community.
Dr Pat O’Sullivan, Irish Water’s Regional Drinking Water Compliance Specialist said: “In Mayo, this latest exceedance of the drinking water regulations for MCPA was noted in the Newport public water supply following routine sampling last month. While our consultation with the HSE has concluded that the levels seen do not represent a threat to public health, it is however undesirable and therefore imperative that users of pesticides are mindful of best practice when using herbicides or pesticides and seek out alternatives.”
Irish Water, working in partnership with a range of organisations involved in the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group (NPDWAG), is asking the farming community, greens keepers, grounds keepers, and domestic users, to consider in each case whether they need to use pesticides at all.
Dr Aidan Moody, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (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 always consider alternatives in the first instance and if pesticides are essential make sure that they are aware of the best practice measures that should be followed to protect water quality.”
Where pesticide use is considered necessary, the NPDWAG is working with the community to ensure that best practice measures to protect drinking water sources and biodiversity are always followed. Farmers and other landholders dealing with the challenge of tackling rushes should note that the 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.

More information on this can be obtained from your local farm advisor or on www.pcs.agriculture.gov.ie/sud/waterprotection.