AN EPA report makes worrying reading for Mayo County Council and operators of private group water schemes in the county, after it revealed that 67 per cent of private group water schemes tested positive at least once for traces of e-coli in 2005.
The 2005 drinking water report was scathing in its criticism of the way private group water schemes were not responding in a quick enough manner to reduce water contamination and stated that ‘it is simply not acceptable that consumers of drinking water from these schemes be provided with consistently poor quality drinking water’.
The report blamed the drop of the overall national compliance rate for the e-coli standard in private group schemes on the fact that Mayo’s rate of compliance fell from 75 per cent in 2004 to 59 per cent in 2005. It also claimed that in 2005 there was a serious shortfall in the monitoring of water supplies and 65 per cent of public group water schemes and 41 per cent of private group water schemes were not adequately monitored.
However, Mayo County Council have taken issue with the EPA over this part of the report and County Secretary, Mr John Condon told The Mayo News that they have continued to test all drinking water to a high standard.
“We are having discussions with the EPA about that because we do not agree with that assertion. The reason is that we have been testing the water and all of the results show excellent quality of water. The quality of public water supply in this county is extremely high and we are taking up that issue with the EPA because it is giving an inaccurate impression,” he said.
Mr Condon admitted the results did not make good reading but said the private group water schemes that were at fault were not under the control of the Council but they were not making efforts to upgrade a lot of those schemes. He claimed that the Council had to get the agreement of the schemes’ trustees and at times this had been difficult but he feels when they are upgraded the contamination content will be reduced and eliminated in time.
“The schemes we have taken over are up to standard and the public schemes are very good but it is the private schemes which have not been taken over that we are working with the operators on to try and improve the quality of the water. A lot of work was carried out in 2005 and that will bring the quality of water up to an acceptable standard,” claimed Mr Condon.
Labour General Election candidate, Mr Harry Barrett said the report was damning and a sad reflection on the Government’s time in power. He called on the Council to publish a list of all the group water schemes who have distributed contaminated water, but Mr Condon claimed it was the duty of the schemes’ trustees to tell their customers if the water was contaminated.