Dáil Éireann - Volume 506 - 03 June, 1999

Written Answers. - Public Water Supply.

[118] 61. Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 130 of 20 May 1999 the frequency of the intervals when the fluoride content in public water supplies is monitored; if he has satisfied himself that the monitoring system, if containing any computerised parts, is fully year 2000 compliant; if any extra monitoring of the fluoride levels will take place on 1 January 2000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14778/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): Regulations made under the Health (Fluoridation of Water Supplies) Act, 1960, provide for the monitoring of fluoridated water supplies. The regulations provide that the fluorine content of the treated water shall be determined by a daily colorimetric test and distillation tests shall be carried out at intervals not exceeding four weeks. These monitoring programmes are the responsibility of the sanitary authorities acting as agents for the health boards.

Distillation tests under these monitoring programmes are carried out in the regional public analyst laboratories. No difficulties are anticipated in maintaining these testing programmes in the year 2000.

I have also been in touch with my colleague the Minister for the Environment and Local Government concerning the European Communities (Quality of Water Intended for Human Consumption) Regulations, 1988. These regulations also specify a frequency for monitoring public water supplies for fluorine content. Responsibility for complying with these regulations is a matter for sanitary authorities.

Results of monitoring undertaken by the sanitary authorities under the 1988 regulations are submitted by them to the Environmental Protection Agency. On the basis of this monitoring data the agency compiles and publishes yearly reports, the most recent of which covers the year 1997. This report, which was published on 30 March 1999 is available in the Oireachtas Library.

The Local Government Computer Services Board and the Department of the Environment and Local Government have taken the necessary steps to ensure that sanitary authorities are aware of the potential year 2000 problems and have advised these authorities of what action needs to be taken to ensure that no serious difficulties will arise.

Progress reports submitted to that Department indicate that, in general, remedial programmes are being implemented on schedule.