Drinking water quality remains high across Northern Ireland

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Thursday, August 24th, 2017

The safety and quality of drinking water in Northern Ireland remains high, a new report has confirmed.

The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI), which is responsible for regulating drinking water quality, has published its Annual Report for 2016.

Every year Northern Ireland Water carries out thousands of tests to check that our tap water complies with all the stringent water quality standards set by European and national legislation.


The results are based on samples taken from water treatment works, service reservoirs and consumers’ taps. And the latest DWI report reveals that in 2016, overall compliance was reported as 99.86% in Northern Ireland.

Speaking following the publication of the report, Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) Chief Executive David Small said, “The Drinking Water Inspectorate’s latest report is reassuring for consumers and confirms that the standard of our drinking water, which must meet strict regulatory standards, remains consistently high.


He added, “It is the Drinking Water Inspectorate’s role to provide independent assurance to consumers that NI Water continues to meet its regulatory responsibilities. Their aim is to safeguard the delivery of safe, clean drinking water for consumers, through the independent and effective regulation of drinking water quality.”

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The report also said that, notwithstanding the high quality of water recorded this year, there is no room for complacency and NI Water still faces significant challenges. Good operational practice and risk management should be applied at every stage through catchment, treatment and distribution to ensure that NI Water continues to provide safe, clean, drinking water to the consumer.

It also highlighted the need for targeted ongoing investment in infrastructure to ensure that overall compliance is maintained or improved to ensure high quality drinking water is secured. NI Water should continue to ensure risks are appropriately managed within the water supply system and this should be supported with its investment programme targeting areas of highest risk.


Poor plumbing and sub-standard fittings are among the main causes of a deterioration in the quality of drinking water, after it has been transferred from public water mains into private pipes and properties.

A small percentage of water is also supplied from private water supplies in Northern Ireland. Extensive monitoring is undertaken of registered private water supplies by local councils on behalf of DWI. The overall compliance figure of 98.85% is 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 2016. The Department will continue to work with the owners in order to raise compliance at premises using a registered private water supply.


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