Research report on Improving Drinking Water Quality in Small Private Supplies

An Early Career research report commissioned by An Fóram Uisce on How to Improve the Drinking Water Quality of Small Private Supplies in Ireland

completed by: Ms Luisa Albuquerque de Andrade, Dr Jean O’Dwyer, and Dr Paul Dylan Hynds of the Technological University of Dublin.

Private water supplies provide drinking water to people who are not connected to the public water mains. There are over 400 private group schemes set up by local communities, who manage the abstraction, treatment and distribution of treated water.  1,750 Small Private Supplies (SPSs) serving commercial or public activity such as hotels, pubs and restaurants, crèches, nursing homes and national schools are registered with local authorities. There are approximately 180,000 private wells in the country, with their management being the responsibility of the owner. Collectively, one fifth of Ireland’s population get their water from these private supplies.

This comprehensive report found that Small Private Supplies consistently display lowest microbial and chemical quality relative to other drinking water supplies. Non-compliance in drinking water standards in these supplies are a result of inappropriate source protection and management practices; insufficient enforcement; and a lack of easy access to adequate advice. Many SPSs remain unmonitored and unregistered.

Included in the research recommendations are:

1) the establishment of a novel national organisation to manage issues related specifically to SPSs.

2)the establishment of a Register of Small Private Supplies;

3) the production of hot spot maps for naturally occurring groundwater contaminants;

3) the enforcement of source protection; and

5) better communications, training and well stewardship campaigns.


The full report is available at:

Report: Protection of Small Private Supplies in Ireland   

Policy Brief: How to Improve Drinking Water Quality in Small Private Supplies in Ireland


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