An exceedance for glyphosate has been detected in the public drinking water supply in Newport, Co. Mayo, prompting an appeal for pesticide users to be responsible when spraying.

Working in partnership with the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group (NPDWAG), Irish Water is appealing to farmers, sporting organisations and other users of pesticides to carefully follow the guidelines when applying such chemicals to their lands.

A single drop of pesticide can breach the drinking water limit in a small stream for up to 30km. This clearly highlights the potential risk facing many of Ireland’s drinking water sources, according to the utility provider.

The efforts to reduce the incidence of these detections are being coordinated by the NPDWAG. This group is chaired by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

All of the key stakeholders are represented in this group and include other Government departments and agencies; local authorities; industry representative bodies; farming organisations; water sector organisations; and amenity sector organisations.

Dr. Pat O’Sullivan, regional drinking water compliance specialist, said: “In Co. Mayo, the exceedance of the drinking water regulations for glyphosate was noted in the Newport supply in May.

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.

“Irish Water is continuing its extensive investment programme to improve water and wastewater services in Ireland. Providing safe, clean drinking water for all is our first priority.”

Certain pesticides are being detected more frequently, Irish Water has also concluded.

Recent drinking water monitoring results for Ireland show that a number of pesticides commonly used such as Bentazone, MCPP, MCPA, Clopyralid and Fluroxypyr, are being detected more frequently.

Both Irish Water and the NPDWAG reminded farmers and professional users of pesticides to follow best practice in the application of pesticides on land, particularly near lakes and rivers used as drinking water sources.

The basic steps in reducing pesticide risks are:
  • Choose the right pesticide product;
  • Read and follow the product label;
  • Determine the right amount to purchase and use;
  • Don’t spray if rain or strong wind is forecast in the next 48 hours;
  • Make sure you are aware of the location of all nearby water courses;
  • Comply with any buffer zone specified on the product label to protect the aquatic environment. Mark out the specified buffer zone from the edge of the river or lake or other water course;
  • Never fill a sprayer directly from a water course or carry out mixing, loading or other handling operations beside a water course;
  • Avoid spills, stay well back from open drains and rinse empty containers three times into the sprayer; and
  • Store and dispose of pesticides and their containers properly.

Information leaflets on pesticide use are available to download from the Teagasc website, Irish Water concluded.