Ireland, aka the Emerald Isle, is an island in the North Atlantic separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St. George’s Channel. It is also the second-largest of the British Isles and the third-largest island in Europe. Ireland is also a well-established western country with all the amenities those in the western world take for granted every day.
Can you drink bathroom tap water in Ireland? The answer is no. No matter where you are in Ireland, even in the larger cities, one should not drink water from the tap in the bathroom.
This article will explore why you should not drink Irish bathroom water from the tap and some alternatives to choose when vacationing in Ireland.
Why Can Irish Bathroom Tap Water Be Dangerous to Drink
While drinking tap water in most European countries is quite safe, there are places where water standards have not become more than localized, which means visitors can become ill drinking in them.
When water is tested for quality in Ireland, they normally take samples from the kitchen tap, which is often fed by a city well or waterworks system. This system is safer than other water sources thanks to some regulations. However, the water in the bathroom tap is often supplied by cistern water, which is harder to regulate and can be a breeding ground for many nasty diseases.
Another area to avoid in Ireland is public fountains where one might observe some of the locals filling jugs or glasses. This water, too, is unregulated and may or may not be safe to drink.
Where in Ireland is Bathroom Tap Water Safe to Drink?
Cities such as Dublin, Cork, or Limerick have water that is very safe to drink if you draw it from the sink in the kitchen. However, if there is any doubt whatsoever as to the origin of the water or ice cubes, one might be consuming, it is better to play it safe and stick to bottled water.
Due to its rural and small burg nature, Ireland is one such country with each township having its own standards for water quality, some of which are of little to no help to travelers. The danger for bathroom tap water in Ireland lies in the way it is tested and where the water comes from.
Even in some of the bigger hotel chains in Ireland have water in their bathrooms that are not safe to drink from. However, no matter you need to do it, it is still safe to brush one’s teeth in the tap water in the bathroom.
What Can Happen If You Drink Water from a Tap In Ireland?
According to Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency, water in 97.6 percent of the country in 2005 was safe for human consumption. However, because local areas have their own schemes, the water there might not be pure.
Irish Water, like any other water source, can play host to a nasty array of pathogens that can make humans violently ill. The two that have made headlines lately in Ireland are Leptospirosis and cryptosporidium.
Either disease process can put a kink in anyone’s vacation plans.
Since rural areas are supported by a heavy concentration of cattle, which inevitably are accompanied by rats and dogs, Leptospirosis is a notable problem for the water supply there. The disease is a common infection in both domestic and wild animals, but once spread to humans the effects can be catastrophic.
At greatest risk are those who fish, swim, or use water, such as drinking from the bathroom tap. In Ireland, farmers, butchers, and sewer workers are at the greatest risk of contracting Leptospirosis.
Cryptosporidium is a type of parasite that causes respiratory and gastrointestinal illness that involves watery diarrhea with or without a persistent couth in people who have little to no resistance to it.
People who have grown up in Ireland have gained immunity by living there and consuming the water and, therefore, will not become violently ill. However, visitors who have no immunity can become extremely ill especially if dehydration sets in.
What To Do When Visiting Ireland to Stay Safe
Remaining well in Ireland takes following a few simple rules and relying on bottled water instead of water from any tap in an Irish home or business. While this may seem archaic, especially for a developed European country like Ireland, the fact remains that Ireland has a water contamination problem that one must not ignore.
When on vacation in Ireland is to remember some simple rules.
- Don’t drink water from the tap in the bathroom
- Do not go swimming in water that is questionable
- Don’t drink water or eat ice from an unknown source
- Shower thoroughly in freshwater from a known clean site after swimming or canoeing
- Don’t drink water in a rural area
By paying close attention to what is drank, visitors to Ireland can go on to have the experience of their lives visiting the small towns and the larger cities of interest.
Ireland is Due to Comply with EU Standards
In the early 2000s, the European Union, of which Ireland is a member, set new standards for drinking water for all member states and gave Ireland until 2004 to comply. However, it has only been just announced that Ireland will be in full compliance with the EU’s water standards as of the beginning of 2020.
This news is great for those who wish to spend their vacation in Ireland as it means water standards for even the water from bathroom taps will become much higher. It is welcome news too to all those living in Ireland who have fought so hard to get standardized measurements and test for water quality established there.
A report by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency in 2017, found 99.9% of public drinking water samples taken already comply with microbiological standards and 99.6% of them complied with chemical standards.
Don’t Get Lax About Irish Water Yet
Even with advances in water quality in Ireland, there are at least seventy-two water supplies listed on the Irish Environmental Protection List that need remediation.
Of these water supplies:
- Fifty-two were found to have elevated levels of trihalomethanes, a group of chemicals formed when chlorine or another disinfectant used to control microbial contaminants in the water react with naturally occurring organic and inorganic matter. Trihalomethanes, when present in high enough doses, can cause cancer and miscarriages.
- Seventeen lacked adequate treatment to prevent Cryptosporidium from entering the water supply.
The Irish are working hard to remediate these problems and works for thirty-eight of these sites was due to be completed by the end of 2018 and indeed were.
The End of the Story for Drinking from the Bathroom Tap in Ireland
The end of the story for drinking water from the tap in the bathrooms of Ireland is don’t. It is much safer to drink one of the dozen or so bottled waters offered in stores all around the island than to suffer from a horrendous disorder.
If you prefer, drink some of the local brews such as Irish ale and whiskey, sample some of the wines from other places in the European Union, or drink soft drinks out of bottles or cans. Avoid asking for or using ice though, as the cubes may not be safe to consume.
By all means, visit and enjoy the history and beauty of the island of Ireland and enjoy it’s endless green grassy rural areas, and it’s bustling cities.