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25 May 2022

One pesticide exceedance in Leitrim drinking water supply in 2021

Public urged to continue to consider the environment and alternatives to pesticides

One pesticide exceedance in Leitrim drinking water supply in 2021

One exceedance of the pesticide MCPA has been detected in the South Leitrim Regional public drinking water supply in 2021.

This exceedance was detected as part of Irish Water’s public water supply monitoring programme. MCPA is still the most commonly detected pesticide in drinking water sources and is present in many commonly used herbicide products used to control thistles, docks and rushes.

There was a significant reduction in the number of exceedances for pesticides in public drinking water supplies in Leitrim last year, according to Irish Water. In 2020 the utility detected four exceedances of Glyphosate as part of its ongoing monitoring, however, this had reduced to one exceedance of MCPA in 2021.

The South Leitrim Regional water supply abstracts raw water from the River Shannon, which is vulnerable to runoff from land.

Irish Water is asking users of any herbicide or pesticide products to continue to consider the vulnerability of their local drinking water supplies to pesticide contamination and the importance of these supplies to local homes and businesses in the community.

Irish Water, working in partnership with a range of organisations involved in the NPDWAG, is asking the farming community, greens keepers, grounds keepers, and also domestic users of pesticides, to consider in each case whether they need to use pesticides at all.

Minimising pesticide use not only helps to protect water quality but also has wider environmental benefits. For example, leaving areas unsprayed can help native flowering plant species to grow and support a range of insects including bees and other vital pollinators.

If pesticides have to be used, the basic steps to reduce risks to drinking water sources and the aquatic environment are:

Choose the right pesticide product (note that products containing MCPA are NOT approved for use in weed-wipers, and are not permitted to be used from the end of September until the beginning of March)

Read and follow the product label

Determine the right amount to purchase and use

Don’t use pesticides if rain 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 and drainage ditches

Avoid spills, stay well back from open drains and rinse empty containers 3 times into the sprayer.

Store and dispose of pesticides and their containers properly. 

Never fill a sprayer directly from a water course or carry out mixing, loading or other handling operations beside a water course

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