Tue, 12 Dec 2023

Drinking Water Quality remains high across Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Executive
03 Oct 2023, 21 GMT+10

The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) report for 2022 has once again found drinking water quality in Northern Ireland is of a high standard.

DWI is responsible for regulating drinking water quality, and today published its Annual Report for 2022.

Welcoming publication of the report, the Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Paul Donnelly said: "I welcome the Drinking Water Inspectorate's annual report on Drinking Water Quality in Northern Ireland. The report demonstrates that the quality of our drinking water remains high which is vital for the protection of Public Health. It is also important for the hospitality sector, farming and the economy."

Northern Ireland Water Limited (NI Water) is required to undertake a stringent monitoring programme to verify that the tap water it supplies to consumers meets all the stringent quality standards set by the drinking water regulations. During 2022, almost 100,000 tests were completed. As outlined in the DWI Report, the overall compliance for the mains water supply in 2022 was 99.91%. The results are based on samples taken from water treatment works, service reservoirs and consumers' taps.

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 had a small impact on the monitoring of the quality of drinking water supplies across Northern Ireland in the first three months of 2022. However, the full regulatory monitoring programme of public water supplies returned in March 2022. Private water supplies monitoring was completed for 99.77% of scheduled parameters in 2022.

The Chief executive went on to say: "The Drinking Water Inspectorate has an important role to play in providing the Northern Ireland public with an independent assurance that their water supply is safe and clean. When required, DWI has carried out enforcement to ensure safe, clean drinking water is sustained."

It is important that NI Water manage risks within the water supply system and this should be supported by an appropriately funded investment programme. We are now approaching the Mid-Term review of PC21 (the Price Control process from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2027). In the current financial climate, it is important that NI Water receive appropriate funding to ensure drinking water quality is maintained in the future.

A small percentage of water is also supplied from private water supplies in Northern Ireland. A number of these supplies serve public buildings, such as hospitals and health care premises, universities, and businesses such as food manufacturers, hotels and restaurants. Extensive monitoring is undertaken of registered private water supplies by the DWI (in conjunction with local councils), with almost 12,000 tests conducted in 2022. The Report published today indicates that the overall compliance figure of 99.02% at private water supplies is slightly lower than that reported for the public water supply. The report provides a breakdown of what these supplies are used for and the issues experienced throughout 2022.

Paul added: "Moving forward, continued improvement in drinking water quality in Northern Ireland remains a priority for the Department. DWI continues to use its influence with NI Water and the owners and users of private water supplies to improve drinking water quality regardless of where it comes from. The need to secure the provision of a resilient public water supply into the future as well as the need to achieve net zero is driving the need for more innovative, lower carbon treatment solutions to be identified by NI Water."

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