With effect from 1 January 2014 Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of public water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local levels.
Under the European Communities (Drinking Water) Regulations 2014, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas library, suppliers of drinking water are required to ensure that the water supplied is wholesome and clean. Water which is wholesome and clean is defined as water which is free from any micro-organisms and parasites and from any substances which in numbers or concentrations constitutes a potential danger to human health and which meets the quality standards specified in the Schedule to the Regulations.
Hard water and the minerals associated with hard water are not included as parameters in the quality standards specified in the Regulations as they do not pose a threat to human health. While hard water is safe to drink and meets the required drinking water standards, some households may choose to soften their supply but this is a matter of personal choice.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as the water quality regulator, is the supervisory authority for public supplies under the Regulations and local authorities are the supervisory authority for relevant private supplies, including group water schemes.
In the event of non-compliance with the quality standards set out in the Regulations, the water supplier will investigate the cause in consultation with the EPA and, if a potential risk to human health exists, with the Health Service Executive, to ensure that the appropriate remedial action is taken. The EPA publishes an annual report on the quality of drinking water supplies in Ireland which sets out details on the numbers of water restrictions and boil water notices. Copies of these reports are available in the Oireachtas library or from the EPA website (http://www.epa.ie).