Where does the tap water come from and what’s in it

Tap water, even if it is safe, may contain substances that affect its taste and odour.  These substances include chlorine, organic impurities and certain pesticides. 

Drinking water comes from different sources - lakes, rivers, streams, springs and boreholes.  Depending on the quality of its source, water will have to be treated to make it safe to drink.  All drinking water supplies must meet EU standards.  Water must be free of parasites, microbes and poisoness chemicals.


Several factors can affect the quality of water sources:

- High or low rainfall

- Type of soil

- Agricultural and residential activities

- Old or dirty pipes

Infectious diseases caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites are the most common health risks associated with drinking water.  Using contaminated water for drinking, preparing food or during washing or bathing can result in infection or a serious disease.  A change in the colour, taste or smell of water may indicate a problem.

According to www.citizensinformation.ie, main risks for households in Ireland are lead pollution and contamination by wastewater.  Lead can be present in drinking water as lead pipework was commonly used in plumbing in Ireland up to about 1970 and some people may still be getting water through old lead pipes.  Leakage from septic tanks or other domestic wastewater treatment systems can contaminate drinking water.  These contaminants are of particular danger to children, older people, pregnant women and people whose immune systems are compromised.

Old septic tank vehicle

Most water supplies need to be treated.  Groundwater often has very high quality, surface waters contain impurities.  If your water has an unpleasant taste, it could be because chlorine was added during the treatment process. While you may not like the taste, the addition of chlorine, according to the authorities, is not dangerous.

The Environmental Protection Agency drinking water reports show that the quality of water in the public mains system is quite high.  Public mains water goes through a complicated treatment process before it is distributed to the consumer.  Water is sampled at all stages of the treatment process and regular testing is carried out on tap water on a daily basis to make sure it complies with the EU standards.  Local authorities are responsible for this treatment.

Water at your home, even after treatment by suppliers, still contains chemical elements that may in a long run have an unwanted effect on your wellbeing.  Placing an additional water purification and softening system in your home will remove or substantially reduce these impurities and improve taste and quality of your water.


Read more about drinking water on citizensinformation.ie (http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/environment/water_services/water_quality.html)

and Environment Protection Agency web site (http://www.epa.ie)


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