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Majority unaware of where drinking water from

A new survey from the National Water Forum to coincide with World Water Day has found that over half of people do not know where their drinking water comes from or how it is treated.

The findings also show people lack trust in their water supply, while a quarter of people did not know who to call if they had a water issue.

Approximately 10% of the population get their water from private wells, but 74% of well-holders do not test their wells annually as recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency – with 21% never testing, according to the survey of over 1,500 people.

Chairperson of the National Water Forum Dr Matt Crowe said the survey had three purposes. These were to see if people knew where their water comes from, how they were treated by their water supplier when something goes wrong, and attitudes to water conservation.

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The National Water Forum is a consultative body that reports to the Minister for Housing.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Dr Crowe said the results point to a communication challenge, especially for Uisce Éireann, adding that the results of the survey were a little surprising.

“What we found interestingly was that for private group schemes, which are much smaller schemes and mostly in rural areas of Ireland, people were far more knowledgeable in the private group schemes than they were for those that were getting their water from Uisce Éireann,” he said.

He said that the lack of knowledge may be just down to people not asking or not being told about their water source.

In relation to trust, he said that while that question was not specifically asked in the survey, the information does suggest that trust levels are higher for those that get their water from private group schemes than from Uisce Éireann.

“That’s probably indicated most strongly by how people feel they were treated themselves when something goes wrong, and they get in contact. So, people getting water from private group schemes are more satisfied with the response they’re received if something goes wrong, than people getting their water from Uisce Éireann,” he said.

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