Grant Assistance for Private Wells
If you live in a rural location and you water supply is from a private well, then you should expect your water supply to be wholesome and clean just as it would be if you lived in a town or city and had a mains water supply. There is grant funding available for those with a private water supply in order to assist towards the cost of capital expenditure required to bring the water supply up to a suitable standard of water quality. In order to apply for a grant, you will need to know the quality of your water and how it compares to the standards set out in the Drinking Water Regulations. It is recommended that you apply for the grant and wait until you have had confirmation that the application has been accepted before getting your water tested.
In Ireland, the county councils are the authorities responsible for the Individual Domestic Well Grant Scheme. In County Cork, this information can be accessed here:
In summary, you are eligible to apply for grant assistance if:
- Your house is over 7 years old.
- You have not received grant assistance for Domestic Water Supply within the last 7 years.
- You are not connected to a public water supply or cannot be reasonably served by a public or group water supply scheme source.
- The house is occupied as your normal place of residence.
(a) 85% of the approved costs for well rehabilitation works, subject to a maximum grant of €3,000;
85% of the approved costs for the provision of a new well, subject to a maximum grant of €5,000.
(b) 100% of the approved costs for works that, in the opinion of the housing authority, are necessary to treat the water to meet the water quality standards specified in Regulation 4(2) of the Drinking Water Regulations, subject to a maximum grant of €1,000.
A grant under these Regulations shall not be paid where the total cost is less than €750.
Common Problems With Private Well Water Supplies
Corrosion. If you notice a bluey green colour around the rim of hot taps and shower heads, then this is an early indication that your water is corrosive. If left untreated, corrosive water ill slowly dissolve copper fittings in the hot water system of your house, eventually resulting in leaks developing. Corrosive water may also greatly shorten the lifespan of your hot water tank and appliances. A further effect of corrosive water is that it may dry out hair and cause coloured hair to turn green. Corrosion is generally due the water having low pH, and is made much worse if the water is also soft. A pH control unit is the recommended method for preventing this problem.
Limescale. Limescale is a grey deposit that forms when had water is heated. If you see limescale deposits in your kettle, then you can be sure that similar deposits are also forming in more delicate appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, and power showers. If limescale forms in these places it can cause blockages and damage the appliances. A water softener is required to remedy this issue.
Bacterial Contamination. Bacterial contamination of the water supply can lead to stomach upsets as well as a number of more serious conditions. It is not possible to tell if water is contaminated just by looking at it or smelling it – the only way to tell if the water is clear from harmful bacteria is to get it tested in a laboratory. A shock chlorination of the well is an effective short-term solution. For long-term peace of mind, it is usually recommended to install a UV steriliser. UV sterilisers use ultra-violet light to kill bacteria, so there is no chemical addition to the water and the taste of the water is unchanged.
Discolouration of White Laundry and Bathroom Ware. If your white laundry turns a grey or brown colour over time, and there is staining on the sinks, toilets, baths, etc., then this is most likely due to high levels of iron and/or manganese in the water. These are two naturally occurring metals that are common in rocks and soil. The water picks up these metals when it is underground, and concentrations can be quite high. In some cases, the water itself will start to turn brown or yellow if it is left to stand for a few hours in a glass. If the iron levels are extremely high, the water will turn orange and a thick orange sludge will develop if the water is allowed to stand. In cases of very high manganese, tiny black particles develop that sink very rapidly if the water is shaken or stirred. These problems require specific filters for removing the iron and manganese.
The EPA website has lots of useful information regarding private drinking water supplies, including instructions for the disinfecting a well FAQs | Environmental Protection Agency (epa.ie).