Do you get your drinking water from a private well?

Would you like to get your water tested for free?


As part of 3 ongoing research projects at NUI Galway and UCC (details below) we are investigating the microbes present in private wells. We want to see whether private well water contains bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics (antimicrobial resistant bacteria) or potentially pathogenic bacteria capable of causing human infections. To do this we will collect water samples, both raw water from the well and water from your tap, and test them for the presence of these bacteria. 

What do we need from you?

All we need to collect the samples is access to your well, your tap and if possible your septic tank. We can arrange a date and time that suits you to collect the sample and we promise that it won't take us long to do so!

We will be collecting in the Galway area starting from mid September 2019.

To express your interest please email and we will take it from there!

What will you get in return?

You will get a report outlining the microbial quality of your well water within a few weeks of our sampling. The report will detail levels of indicator bacteria present and provide recommendations on the water quality.

What will we do with your data?

It will be necessary to gather information including your name, email address and house address/ eircode for the purposes of sample collection. This data will be stored on an encrypted computer for up to 10 years but will not be shared with any other authority. The researchers involved with the AREST, DESIGN and SMARTIE projects will be the only people that have access to this data. Access to your own personal data can be requested or alternatively you can ask to have the data erased at any point during this project.

Participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no obligation to participate, and should you choose to do so you can withdraw from the study at any point. All information you provide will be confidential and your anonymity will be protected throughout the study. 

Would you ike to know more about these projects?

The AREST Project

The AREST project (Antimicrobial Resistance and the Environment – Sources, Persistence, Transmission and Risk Management), aims to better understand how antibiotic resistance is transmitted and spread in the environment with a particular focus on water bodies e.g. lakes/rivers/marine waters and water/wastewater treatment systems e.g. septic tanks/group water schemes/wastewater treatment plants. It is a four-year project jointly funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Health Service Executive (HSE). We are collecting and analysing samples (250mL of sewage and 30L of water – raw and tap) in four local authority areas: Galway City Council, Galway County Council, Fingal County Council and Cork County Council, which are tested for levels of E. coli and coliforms as well as antibiotic resistance of clinical importance. AREST is a collaborative project between NUI Galway, the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine, Teagasc, UCD, Maynooth University, Technical University of Denmark, Galway County Council and Cork County Council.

The DESIGN Project                 

The DESIGN (Detection of Environmental Sources of Infectious Diseases in Groundwater Networks) project is a one year EPA funded project that aims to investigate whether private wells are a source of pathogenic E. coli. The E. coli that live in our intestines are not usually harmful, in fact they help us to break down our food. However, certain pathogenic E. coli strains that live in the intestines of cattle and sheep can be harmful to humans and can cause serious gastrointestinal illness in susceptible people, such as young children and the elderly. This project will use the same samples as collected as part of AREST (30L of raw and 30L of tap water) to screen well waters for the presence of these harmful E.coli.

The SMARTIE Project

SMARTIE (Spatiotemporal multiscale Modelling of Antimicrobial Resistance in the Irish subsurface Environment) is a PhD project based in the University College Cork (UCC) and is co-funded by the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG) and the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) under the remit of their Environmental Geosciences Postgraduate Programme. The purpose of this study is to evaluate current levels of antibiotic resistance in Irish groundwaters and identify the environmental and/or human-derived factors driving it. For this, we will collect samples from your outside well tap (750mL) and from your kitchen tap (250mL), ask you some simple questions about antibiotic use (via a 10-question survey), and take some site measures, such as well depth, water table level, and distances from the well to the road, agriculture, etc. Samples then will be tested for presence of coliforms, E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and, if present, they will be tested for resistance against clinically important antibiotics. A report with microbial quality results, and interpretations and recommendations based on these results, will be emailed to you within a few weeks of sampling (free of charge).

See details on how to protect your private well at: