Water is our most important food ingredient.Fruit, vegetables, cereals and livestock all need clean water to grow andthrive. More than 80% of drinking water in Ireland comes from surface water supplies (i.e., rivers and lakes), with the rest coming from groundwater (springs and wells), which is in contrast to our European neighbours who mostly use groundwater.  :

Over 250,000 individual tests are carried out on water supplies in Ireland annually and the good news is that 70% of Ireland’s watercourses are in good condition and we are largely doing better than our EU neighbours in terms of managing our lakes, rivers, groundwater and estuaries. However, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, we are going to have to work harder in the coming years if we are to meet binding EU water quality and anti-pollution targets for 2015 and 2021. Commenting on a recent report on the subject, the EPA’s Martin McGarricle said that improving water quality management in Ireland will involve tacking three issues: “Firstly, eliminating serious pollution associated with point sources, that is, waste water treatment plants; secondly, tackling diffuse pollution, meaning pollution from farming and septic tanks; and thirdly using the full range of legislative measures available to us.”

While we like to think of water as a resource we have in abundance, water conservation is set to become an important issue in Ireland n the decades ahead – not least because of he planned introduction of domestic water metering in line with other European countries. New investments in water treatment and wastewater treatment plants, and progammes to tackle water losses through our aging public infrastructure are set to be critical priorities in the coming years.


The size of the bottled water sector is difficult to pin down, but industry insiders estimate it to be worth circa €250m per annum in Ire/and. Globally, the market is estimated to be worth €102,000m. That is based on annual consumption worldwide totaling 170,000m liters. Ireland’s bottled water companies have established an international reputation for high levels of quality – brands such as Ballygowan, Tipperary, Glenpatrick and Kerry Spring. Most recently, Tipperary Natural Mineral Water celebrated three international gold medals in its 25th Anniversary year at the British Bottlers Institute (BBI) Awards in London. Meanwhile, the leader in the Irish bottled water market, Ballygowan, produces 75m bottles of water per year.

A question of taste – Tipperary

Ed Binsted, President of the British Bottlers Institute, which recently awarded three gold medals to Tipperary Water, comments on the subtleties of water appreciation.

In assessing bottled water quality, professional judges take into account key factors such as carbonation and stillness. The professional taster has a palate attuned to nuanced gradations, according to Ed: “French and German waters tend to be lightly carbonated. Irish waters have much in common with waters from mid-France in that they tend to be soft, due in great part to the amount of rain the country gets and the relative cleanliness of that rain.” If you are drinking a bottled water on its own, rather than with a meal, Ed suggests opting for a premium quality water: “Premium waters that are slightly more expensive have a little more about them in terms of taste. There’s also a widely held perception among serious water drinkers that the taste experience is better when the water is poured from a glass bottle, rather than a plastic bottle.”

Friday January 27 2012

WATER costs more in pubs than beer, a new survey has found.

Mineral water cost €9.44 per litre on average compared with €7.92 a litre for stout and €8.71 for brand-name beers, according to the survey by Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone.

Soft drinks cost even more, with cola costing €13.45 per litre — the most expensive drink in the survey of over 100 Dublin pubs.

Ms Noone criticised the high price of non-alcoholic drinks at a time when people were being encouraged to drink less.

“This survey shows it’s actually more expensive to spend your night sipping on water or soft drinks instead of beer or stout. How can this make sense?” she said.

“This isn’t just about encouraging people to drink sensibly. It’s also about the fact that punters are clearly being ripped off,” she added.

Andrew O’ Gorman, January, 2012.

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