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The term 'Pesticides' includes herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, seed dressings and rodenticides.  All of these need to be used correctly to ensure they do not affect our rivers and streams.  Apart from it being important to protect our environment in general, it should be remembered that two of the largest rivers in Kildare, the Barrow and the Liffey, are both used as drinking water sources.  Many of the smaller streams and ditches feed into these rivers.

A single drop of pesticide can breach the drinking water limit in a small stream for 30 kilometers so it is essential for the health of our people and our environment that our rivers, lakes, groundwaters and streams are all protected from the pollution of pesticides. 

For further information on related topics such as container storage and triple rinsing contact the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Teagasc or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the links below:

DAFF Laboratories,
Co. Kildare.

Tel: +353 (0) 1 6157100


Prevent Pollution, REDUCE Pesticide use and help Save our Bees!

Irish Water urge us all to use Best Practice when Spraying Pesticides

Farmers urged to use best practice when spraying pesticides following MCPA detections in drinking water in Co Kildare (March 2019)

Exceedances in pesticides have been detected in drinking water sources in Co Kildare and as a result Kildare County Council and Irish Water working in partnership with the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group (NPDWAG) is appealing to farmers and other users of pesticides to follow the guidelines when applying these substances to their lands. The efforts to reduce the incidence of these detections are being coordinated by the NPDWAG. This group is chaired by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. All of the key stakeholders are represented in this group and include other Government departments and agencies; local authorities; industry representative bodies; farming organisations; water sector organisations; and amenity sector organisations.

The last pesticide exceedance recorded for Kildare was in September 2017. There were no pesticide exceedances recorded for Kildare in 2018, however there were low level detections in some supplies and while there is no threat to public health, it is imperative that users of pesticides are mindful of best practice when spraying their lands.

Commenting ahead of the 2019 spraying season, Andrew Boylan, Irish Water’s Regional Drinking Water Compliance Specialist said: “Irish Water is continuing its extensive investment programme to improve water and wastewater services in Ireland. Providing safe, clean drinking water for all is our first priority. In Ireland, the majority (82 per cent) of drinking water supplies come from surface water sources (water from rivers, lakes and streams). Such supplies are vulnerable to contamination from land and animal run-off.”

Different supplies in Co Kildare have seen the herbicide MCPA detected over the past two years, albeit mostly at very low levels. MCPA is used mainly for eradicating rushes, a problem for many years on Irish farms and one that looks like continuing for many more years. It is also found in other weed killer formulations used by gardeners and growers, so its use is quite widespread.

Adding to this, Dr Aidan Moody, Chair of the NPDWAG commented: “The continued engagement of all stakeholders, working in partnership, is needed to tackle this issue. Users of pesticides should make sure that they are aware of the best practice measures that should be followed to protect water quality.”

MCPA, which is commonly used to kill rushes on wet land, is the main offender, and careless storage, handling and improper application means it ends up in our drinking water leading to breaches of the drinking water regulations.

A single drop of pesticide can breach the drinking water limit in a small stream for up to 30 kilometres. This clearly highlights the potential risk facing many of Ireland’s drinking water sources.

Drinking water monitoring results for Ireland show that a number of pesticides commonly used on grassland, such as MCPA, are being detected more frequently.

The basic steps in reducing pesticide risks are –

  • Choose the right pesticide product
  • Read and follow the product label
  • Determine the right amount to purchase and use
  • Don’t spray if rain or strong wind is forecast in the next 48 hours
  • Make sure you are aware of the location of all nearby water courses
  • Comply with any buffer zone specified on the product label to protect the aquatic environment. Mark out the specified buffer zone from the edge of the river or lake or other water course
  • Never fill a sprayer directly from a water course or carry out mixing, loading or other handling operations beside a water course
  • Avoid spills, stay well back from open drains and rinse empty containers 3 times into the sprayer.
  • Store and dispose of pesticides and their containers properly.

A video on the correct use of MCPA can be viewed on Irish Water’s YouTube channel at

Information Leaflets

Information leaflets listed below are available to download from the Publications section

"Protecting Drinking Water from Pesticides; Advice for Farmers and Other Professional Users"

"Protecting Drinking Water from Pesticides; Herbicide Use in Grassland"

"Protecting Drinking Water from Pesticides; Advice for Gardeners and Household Users"