23 October 2018 Go back to News
Impact of investment in wastewater treatment being felt in communities across the country
Irish Water has upgraded or built new wastewater treatment plants in 55 locations
The positive impact of Irish Water’s investment in wastewater treatment is being felt by communities across the country as new wastewater plants are built and more are being upgraded. Irish Water is on track to deliver on our approved investment plans which will result no areas in the country having any form of untreated wastewater discharge by 2021. Since 2014 Irish Water has upgraded or built new wastewater treatment plants in 55 locations across the country including 12 towns where raw sewage was going directly into the water. These new and upgraded plants have improved the environment, supported tourism and in many cases built capacity for new homes and businesses.
The EPA’s annual Urban Wastewater Treatment Report points to the progress made by Irish Water in 2017. The utility increased expenditure by 25% to €215 million last year to ensure the development and delivery of solutions to support the safe return of wastewater to the environment from almost 1.1 million homes throughout Ireland after it has travelled through 30,000 kilometres of public sewers and been treated at 1,100 wastewater treatment plants.
Irish Water is increasing investment in wastewater infrastructure year on year and has planned to increase spending on wastewater projects in the existing Capital Investment Plan. Many of wastewater projects are currently in the design and planning stage and expenditure during this stage is significantly lower than during construction. Consequently there will be a large increase in wastewater expenditure over the next few years up to the end of 2021.
Irish Water has to focus investment in wastewater and does so by prioritising, firstly those locations that are not compliant with European Standards under the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive and also by focusing on those locations with no treatment of raw sewage and those other locations where we need to improve existing treatment.
Irish Water is fully committed to meeting the timescales associated with the European Court of Justice Urban Wastewater Treatment Case. Since 2016 Irish Water has completed works at 16 locations ensuring compliance with European standards under the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive. Irish Water has corrective actions in place for 28 sites that failed in 2017.
In 12 towns around the country were raw sewage were directly into the water, new wastewater plants have been constructed. There are plans progressing for an additional 38 locations.
Irish Water in conjunction with the local authorities is continuing to roll out standard operating procedures for wastewater treatment plants to ensure that they are operated to the highest standards possible.
Speaking about the progress made by Irish Water, Head of Asset Management Sean Laffey said,
“In total since 2014 Irish Water has upgraded or built new wastewater treatment plants in 55 locations across the country improving the environment, supporting tourism and in many cases building capacity for new homes and businesses.”
“Irish Water has to focus investment in wastewater and does so by prioritising, firstly those locations that are not compliant with European Standards under the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive and by then focusing on those locations with no treatment of raw sewage and also those other locations where we need to improve existing treatment.”
“In some cases, progress has been slower than we would like due to complex conditions, planning and other issues, but Irish Water has a plan for every area. The size and scale of the challenge we have faced over the past four years has been considerable, but the expertise and capability of Irish Water and local authority engineers and other staff has meant that we have developed solutions and plans to support the safe return of wastewater to the environment from almost 1.1 million homes throughout Ireland after it has travelled through 30,000 kilometres of public sewers and been treated at 1,100 wastewater treatment plants.”
In Carlow, upgrades have been completed at the wastewater treatment plants in Rathvilly and Hacketstown. The new treatment plants, which were opened in September 2017, replaced facilities which dated from 1954 and were not capable of meeting the demands of the growing population or of complying with modern environmental standards.
In Cavan town the wastewater treatment plant was upgraded in 2015/2016 to cater for a population of 30,000 people. This upgraded plant has improved the environment, supported tourism and allowed capacity for new homes and businesses.
In Clare, Irish Water is progressing plans to provide wastewater treatment plants in four areas that have been identified as having no treatment or preliminary treatment. Five locations in all - Ballyvaughan, Clarecastle, Kilkee, Kilrush and Liscannor - have been identified, with provision also being made facilitate treatment of wastewater from Clarecastle which is currently being discharged untreated to the River Fergus and Shannon Estuary.
We are also progressing a number of projects to improve the wastewater infrastructure in Shannon Town and environs as well as in Quin and Kilfenora. These works include the upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant, construction of new sewers, cleaning and surveying of sewers in the area and analysis of the broader network.
Last month, Irish Water and Cork County Council marked the official opening of a new waste water treatment plant in Youghal. It brought to an end the decades-long practice of discharging untreated sewage into the Blackwater Estuary, with a total investment of €26m in the overall scheme. It also ensures that wastewater from homes and businesses is treated and discharged in full compliance with Irish and European environmental standards.
The Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage project is now at the halfway mark which means 10,000 homes and businesses are connected to the new scheme. As a result of the new waste water treatment plant in Shanbally, the amount of raw sewage being discharged into the Harbour has already reduced by the equivalent of 20,000 wheelie bins every day. When all the Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage works are complete in 2021, the project will treat all wastewater from 20,000 homes and businesses in Passage West, Monkstown, Ringaskiddy, Crosshaven, Carrigaline, Glenbrook, Shanbally, Coolmore and Cobh.
In Cork, five agglomerations have been identified as having no treatment or preliminary treatment only. The five agglomerations are Ballycotton, Castletownbere, Castletownshend, Inchigeelagh and Whitegate/Aghada. Irish Water is committed to providing appropriate wastewater treatment in these area and we intend to submit planning over the coming months. We will be meeting with the public in Ballycotton in November to detail our revised plans.
In Bundoran, Irish Water completed works in 2018 to stop the discharge of the equivalent of 9,600 wheelie bins of raw sewage per day, improving water quality for surfers, swimmers and the marine environment. Since 2014 Irish Water has provided three new wastewater treatment schemes for St Johnston, Killybegs and Bundoran and has upgraded plants at Glenties and Dungloe in Co Donegal.
Plans for new and upgraded wastewater treatment schemes for Letterkenny, Gweedore, Buncranna, Falcarragh, Moville, Milford, Ramelton and Rathmullen are also progressing.
Since 2015 Irish Water, working in partnership with Kerry County Council, has upgraded the wastewater treatment plants in Ballylongford, Tarbert, Kilgarvan and Ardfert. Significant improvements have also been made at Dingle, Caherciveen, Killarney and Tralee wastewater treatment plants, with further improvements also planned for Tralee and Kenmare wastewater treatment plants.
In Kilkenny, a number of areas have benefited from upgrades to wastewater treatment plants since 2014.
Upgrades have been completed In Castlecomer, Urlingford and Stoneyford where €3.7 million was invested to upgrade wastewater treatment plants and pumping stations. Prior to the completion of this project, treatment of wastewater at these plants serving the areas did not meet the required environmental standards. This resulted in untreated wastewater being discharged into the River Barrow and River Nore SAC (Special Area of Conservation).
New wastewater treatment plants have also been built in Freshford, Johnstown and Goresbridge. The three new wastewater treatment plants are now treating effluent to EPA standards which has resulted in improvements to water quality in the receiving waters.
Significant works have also taken place to upgrade the Kilkenny municipal treatment plant at Purcellsinch.
Good progress has been made at a number of locations where wastewater treatment plants have been upgraded, including Castlecomer, Urlingford, Stoneyford, Freshford, Goresbridge and Johnstown, projects which represented an overall investment of more than €6m in Kilkenny.
In Limerick, Irish Water has been progressing plans to address wastewater treatment deficits at a number of locations across the county. In Glin and Foynes, feasibility studies have been carried out and work is due to get underway in early 2019 on detailed design, planning and land acquisition for new wastewater treatment plants.
Projects to upgrade wastewater treatment plants at Askeaton, Bunlicky (Limerick City), Castletroy and Dromcollogher are also at an advanced stage.
Earlier this year, Irish Water signed a contract this year to upgrade the Athea wastewater treatment plant. This €1.5m project will protect local waterways, improve water quality and help facilitate future social and economic development in the area. Work got underway during the summer and is expected by take 18 months to complete.
In Louth, Irish Water is progressing a project to upgrade the Omeath Sewerage Scheme to stop the discharge of untreated wastewater into Carlingford Lough. The proposed scheme, expected to be completed in 2020, will improve the water quality in Carlingford Lough benefiting the people that use the Lough and the wildlife that live on the banks of and in the Lough.
Irish Water have implemented operational and process improvements including the installation of phosphorus removal systems at both the wastewater treatment plants in Dundalk and Drogheda to ensure compliance with the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive.
The sewage treatment plant in Ardee is currently being upgraded to 8,000 PE and will be completed in 2019.
In Blackrock, a new aeration and sludge management system is going to be installed in the Blackrock wastewater treatment plant in early 2019 to provide additional capacity at the plant.
In Mayo, Irish Water has invested €9 million investment in the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant in Belmullet, Co Mayo. Prior to the completion of these works, Belmullet was one of the 44 locations around Ireland where wastewater was being discharged into the natural environment untreated.
There has been a further €19 million investment in sewerage schemes in Killala Foxford and Charlestown. The Killala Sewerage Scheme will stop untreated wastewater being discharged directly into Killala Bay and the Foxford and Charlestown sewerage schemes will provide new and upgraded treatment plants for the towns to meet the current populations and will provide for future growth in the areas.
Irish Water is investing €16 million in upgrading the Grange, Strandhill, Tubbercurry and Ballinafad Wastewater Treatment Plants in Co Sligo and carried out rehabilitation works on the main sewer line in Sligo town.
In 2016, Irish Water completed a €24 million project to deliver new wastewater treatment plants to seven towns and villages across Co. Waterford. These areas, which include seaside towns with busy tourist trades and popular fishing locations, are Ardmore, Ballyduff, Kilmeaden, Cappoquin, Dunmore East, Kilmacthomas, Stradbally and Tallow. The wastewater treatment in Portlaw is currently being upgraded with works due to be complete next year.
The upgrading of the county’s wastewater infrastructure benefits over 22,000 households. The investment has also improved water quality at receiving waters and helped enable the beach at Ardmore to achieve blue flag status.
“The new Wastewater Treatment Plant at Ardmore became operational in 2015 and we were delighted that the status of Ardmore Beach was upgraded to ‘Excellent’ in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Bathing Water Quality Report 2017 published earlier this year,” said Niall O’Riordan, Wastewater Infrastructure Lead at Irish Water.
Works to upgrade the wastewater treatment facilities in Enniscorthy which started last year are ongoing. The €16.3 million project involves the upgrade and expansion of the existing Enniscorthy wastewater treatment plant and the decommissioning of the existing Kilagoley wastewater treatment plant along with extensive upgrade work to three pumping stations, construction of a new foul sewer and sewer rehabilitation works.
“The upgraded wastewater treatment plant which will be fully operational mid 2019, will ensure that wastewater from Enniscorthy is fully treated and is compliant with all licence requirements and environmental regulations before being discharged into the River Slaney,” said Niall O’Riordan, Wastewater Infrastructure Lead.
In partnership with Wexford County Council, we are also working to end the discharge of untreated wastewater to the Barrow Nore Suir Estuary. Works to build a new wastewater treatment plant and associated network infrastructure in Arthurstown, are expected to be completed in 2021.
The new wastewater treatment plant will stop the discharge of the equivalent of 1,500 wheelie bins of untreated wastewater and sewage in Arthurstown, Ballyhack and Duncannon per day.
Furthermore, plans are also being put in place to construct new wastewater treatment plants in Fethard-on-Sea and Kilmore Quay before 2021.
In Wicklow, Irish Water has submitted a planning application to An Bord Pleanála for the Arklow Wastewater Treatment Plant. The proposed new Wastewater Treatment Plant will benefit the people of Arklow, the tourism industry, the surrounding environment and enable long term social and economic development. The construction of the proposed new wastewater treatment plant, is part of a €60m investment in the Arklow Wastewater Treatment Project. Subject to planning consent and procurement, construction is expected to begin by the end of 2019. The provision of a wastewater treatment plant for Arklow is a requirement under both European and national legislation.
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