Drinking Water Quality remains high across Northern Ireland

Date published: 17 August 2017

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


The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI), which is responsible for regulating drinking water quality, has today 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.

“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.”

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. That’s why the DWI encourages households to use nationally registered plumbers that can be trusted to use approved materials when carrying out work. Schemes such as Watersafe or SNIPEF provide details of registered plumbers in your area.

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.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Drinking Water Inspectorate now operates as a business unit within the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), part of the new Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs following the review of government departments in May 2016.
  2. The Drinking Water Inspectorate has an independent responsibility to assess and regulate drinking water quality for both public and private water supplies against the regulatory requirements.
  3. Northern Ireland Water Ltd (NI Water) is solely responsible for the supply and distribution of public drinking water.
  4. There were 154 registered private water supplies monitored in Northern Ireland in 2016, an increase of 15 from 2015.
  5. Download the Report
  6. Follow us on Twitter
  7. All media queries should be directed to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Press Office on 028 9052 4619. During out of office hours, please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

Share this page

Back to top