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Raw sewage is being pumped out in 43 areas across the country, says EPA

Waste water discharges contributed to poor quality water at six popular beaches.

Ringsend/Sandymount strand in Dublin
Ringsend/Sandymount strand in Dublin

RAW SEWAGE IS still being discharged from 43 areas across the country, according to a report released this morning by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA’s Urban Waste Water Report said that 29 towns and cities failed to meet the mandatory EU waste water treatment standards in 2015.

Waste water discharges contributed to poor quality water at six popular beaches:

  • Merrion Strand, Sandymount, Dublin
  • Loughshinny Beach, north county Dublin
  • Rush south beach, north county Dublin
  • Youghal front strand, east Cork
  • Duncannon in Wexford
  • Ballyloughane Beach Galway City

Regarding the production of raw sewage, the EPA said planned delivery of treatment plants at half of these areas has now been delayed by an average of almost two years.

shutterstock_279594776 (1) File photo. Source: Shutterstock/brian legate


New treatment plants have been built at Ardmore, Dunmore East and Ballylongford to eliminate raw sewage discharges, however.

And a total of 142 large towns and cities in Ireland have complied with the EU waste water treatment standards last year.

But reported annual investment in infrastructure since 2014 has dropped by 40% from the average levels during the previous decade, the EPA said.

It is calling for more investment in public waste water treatment infrastructure to protect the environment and public health from the adverse effects of waste water discharges.

“The pace of resolving waste water treatment needs to improve,” said Gerard O’Leary, director of the EPA’s office of environmental enforcement.

It is not acceptable that the timeframe to eliminate the discharge of raw sewage from over 20 areas has slipped by almost two years.

“We need to see increased capital investment and improved efficiencies in the delivery of the outstanding infrastructure necessary to protect our rivers, lakes and coastal waters and for a more sustainable quality of life.”

shutterstock_26183833 The weir in Ballincollig Regional Park. Source: Shutterstock/walshphotos

Waste water contributed to river pollution in 45 areas, meanwhile. The EPA says 16 waste water schemes require improvements to protect the critically endangered freshwater pearl mussel.

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David Flynn, of the EPA’s Office of environmental enforcement called on Irish Water to improve its performance.

“EPA analysis has found that better operational practices should resolve issues at one fifth of poorly-performing plants,” he said.

Irish Water needs to improve the performance of these plants to get the most from the existing infrastructure.

The EPA added that 13 large urban areas are playing host to a waste water collection system which is non-compliant with the EU Waste Water Directive, which aims to prevent the loss of waste water into the environment.

These are:

  • Cavan town (estimated date of compliance 2018)
  • Enniscorthy, Co Wexford (2025)
  • Athlone, Co Westmeath (2020)
  • Thurles, Co Tipperary (2022)
  • Roscrea, Co Tipperary (2022)
  • Roscommon town (2019)
  • Osberstown, Co Kildare (2020)
  • Ballincollig, Co Cork (2021)
  • Cork City (2022)
  • Fermoy, Co Cork (2020)
  • Mallow, Co Cork (2018)
  • Ringaskiddy-Crosshaven-Carrigaline (2017)

In a statement, Irish Water said the figures reflected decades of under-investment in wastewater infrastructure in Ireland.

Spokesman Sean Laffey said: “Irish Water has a plan to address all of the issues and concerns raised by the EPA and is already making progress.”


Read: Three people die every day due to the state of the Irish environment – study

Read: The Green Party reckons Ireland has “thrown in the towel” when it comes to emissions

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