HSE Advice for people with private wells or shared water schemes during Storm Lorenzo

HSE Statement: 03rd October 2019

During storm Lorenzo, listen closely to national and local media for health messages about water.

The following HSE advice is for people with private wells and shared water schemes that might be impacted due to loss of power or moving flood waters resulting from Storm Lorenzo.

For people with private wells or who are on shared water schemes please note that during severe weather events your water supply may become restricted or reduced. The effects of the storm may occur during the storm or in the aftermath of the storm.

The following points explain how your water supply might be restricted: 

  • If your drinking water becomes contaminated with microorganisms (bugs) or is at risk of being contaminated, a BOIL WATER NOTICE may be put on your water supply.
  • This means you will have to boil the water before using it for drinking, brushing teeth, or preparing food and ice.
  • If your drinking water becomes contaminated with chemicals or other substances you may be advised not to drink the water at all.  This is called a DO NOT USE NOTICE.
  • If you have a private well and the water changes in smell, taste or colour, it may be a sign that the well has been contaminated. If in any doubt, boil it before using or use an alternative water supply.

What alternative water sources could I use if my supply is restricted or reduced? 

  • Bottled water can be used for drinking and cooking.
  • Bottled water can also be used to make up infant formula.
  • It is very important to keep babies hydrated.
  • It is best not to use bottled water labelled as ‘Natural Mineral Water’ to make up infant feeds as it can have high levels of sodium (salt) and other minerals. However, it rarely exceeds these levels and can be used in an emergency.
  • If bottled water is used to make up infant formula it should be boiled (rolling boil for 1 minute) once, and cooled in the normal way. Do not re-boil.
  • Ready-to-use infant formula that does not need added water can also be used.
  • If Irish Water or the Local Authority delivers water by tank into your area, you will be advised to boil it before using.
  • If you use an alternative water source, such as an old well or a neighbour’s well, you should be sure that it is safe to drink. If in any doubt, boil it before using.
  • Do not consume untreated water from a lake, river, spring or unregulated well.

What other steps might I need to take if my water is reduced or restricted?

  • It is important that everybody, including older people stay hydrated by drinking enough water / fluids.
  • It is important to maintain good hand hygiene (www.hse.ie/handhygiene) by washing your hands with soap and water before cooking food, eating, after using the toilet and after changing nappies.
  • If you do not have enough running water to wash your hands at other times, use an alcohol based hand gel.
  • Alcohol based hand gels can be used in all instances, if there is no water available to wash your hands. 


Last updated on: 03 / 10 / 2019