ALMOST HALF of the waste water treatment plants serving Ireland’s urban centres are falling short of national and EU standards, a new report has claimed.
The report from the Environmental Protection Agency says 46 per cent of plants do not meet all the quality standards required, with 11 large urban areas – including three in Cork – do not meet standards set down by European directives.
Another eight urban areas, including the cities of Dublin, Cork and Kilkenny, are falling short of guidelines relating to discharges in sensitive water areas – because nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen must be removed from those areas.
In two cases – with facilities in Bray, Co Wicklow and Ringaskiddy in Cork – work has been due since 2000, but has still not been completed. Works on the Bray plant are expected to be finished later this year, but will not be finished in Ringaskiddy until 2014.
Another eight plants, including those in Lusk, Cobh, Youghal, Arklow, Clifden and Skibbereen – have needed work since 2005.
Dara Lynott from the Office of Environmental Enforcement said meeting the EU targets would demand “substantial and sustained investment”.
“However, the benefits of such investment extend beyond water quality, as clean water is a pre-requisite for our tourism, food, agriculture and manufacturing industries,” he added.
The report does find some positives – observing that while 112 waste water plants did not test samples since the last such survey in 2007, this number has now fallen to 38.