A member of the medical profession who resides in the Rathmullan area who has claimed the local water supply is not for human consumption.
Dr. John Carnie says that a response from the EU Environmental Directorate to his concerns is totally unsatisfactory. He intends pursuing the matter elsewhere.
The retired anaesthetist claims that along with many other homes in Rathmullan, he has been in receipt of hazardous water since 2009 and no remedial action has been undertaken in the last five years.
The main complaint refers to the presence of THMs (Trihalomethanes) in drinking water in the area. Meanwhile the EU Commission says the elimination of all THMs remains a priority for the EPA.
The Tirconaill Tribune referred the concerns raised by Dr. Carnie to Irish Water on November 3rd for a response.
They’ve now said: “THMs are a by-product formed during the chlorination process of treated water and should be kept as low as practicable without comprising the effective disinfectant properties of chlorine. The parametric value for THM compliance was lowered from 150 to 100 in 2008.
“The construction of a new 150mm watermain laid from the Milford Water Supply Zone to Rathmullan Village took place at the end of 2013 which has in effect allowed 50% of the Rathmullan water supply zone to be supplied from the compliant Milford Water Treatment works. It was not possible to extend this water to the remainder of the Rathmullan due to several engineering issues.
“Irish Water’s longer term plan to resolve this issue involves supplying the remaining 50% of the Rathmullan Water Supply Zone from upgrade works linked to the major Letterkenny upgrade package which is expected to be substantially complete by December 2018.”
Dr. Carnie has complained to the EU that the public water supply in Rathmullan “is hazardous to health and is in breach of an EU directive”.
However Dr. Carnie told the Tribune: “The whole of the Rathmullan district has a water supply that is unsafe to drink or even bathe in, years after the problem was first identified.”
He said: “Until Irish water sent out their recent forms I was blissfully unaware of the water quality in my domestic supply.
“However in order to return my form I set about looking into the source and quality of the water.
“After a wide and difficult Internet search I found out that the water supply of Rathmullan has been known to contain trihalomethane (THM’s) at levels considerably above accepted EU guideline and international levels.
“This contaminant is known to be hazardous to health by ingestion, inhalation and skin contact. THM.s are produced by the disinfection chlorination process on the Gort Lough water supply of Rathmullan due to its high organic material content.
“High levels have been known about since first measured in 2009 with no corrective action on the part of initially Donegal County Council. The HSE, the EPA and now Irish Water. The inadequate piping works undertaken in the winter 2013 to introduce Milford Water by piping have only corrected 30% of the town let alone surrounding areas.
“Absolutely no one has informed the consumers directly that their water supply is undrinkable.
“Irish water in proposed future works has mentioned a possible 2016 date for an upgrade conditional on funding and planning consent for disconnecting Gort Lough.
“Irish Water, and the regulatory bodies along with local politicians, do not consider individuals merit being informed about this ongoing health hazard to be important.”
Christof Mainz of the EU’s Environment Dept has told Dr. Carnie that they are aware of the problem. The final examining of the Member States’ reports for the period 2008-2010 shows for Ireland a sample compliance of 100% for all microbiological and chemical parameters except for the parameters lead and trihalomethanes.
Mr. Mainz said: “According to the available information, in particular, the EPA’s report ensures water monitoring and identification of THM exceedances and follow-up measures to ensure compliance. According to the available information, all exceedances of the standards are examined to determine if there is a potential danger to human health. All supplies with persistent or intermittent THM exceedances are included on the EPA’s Remedial Action List and remedial and enforcement action is being undertaken to ensure compliance. The Irish authorities also ensure that individuals are being informed about the water quality monitoring data and the applicable advice on the use of drinking water (e.g. Boil Water Notices).
In addition, since 1 January 2014 Irish Water has assumed responsibility for public water services and is responsible for ensuring compliance with all public water supplies with the statutory parameters set out in the Drinking Water Directive. According to the available information, Irish Water has put in place measures to minimise potential THM breaches and these include: The development of a THM formation potential monitoring programme, to evaluate the effects of critical individual parameters on THM formation, their interaction, correlation and variability, in order to identify high THM formation potential sources. In its role as supervisory authority for public water supplies, the Environmental Protection Agency has prepared guidance for water suppliers on the investigations to be carried out where THMs occur in a water supply.”
He also advised Dr. Carnie to get directly in contact with Irish Water and the EPA.