Irish Water, Ireland’s national water utility responsible for providing and developing water and wastewater services throughout Ireland, is investing €228 million in a major programme of work to upgrade water and wastewater infrastructure in Cork. €180 million will be invested in a major upgrade of the wastewater network and a further €48 million is being invested to improve drinking water quality and supply.
Works have been prioritised to address the most critical issues with Ireland’s water infrastructure in line with commitments outlined in Irish Water’s recently published Business Plan. Speaking to IBEC’s Regional Executive Committee in Cork, Ervia, Irish Water’s parent company, outlined the key objectives for the utility that will bring Ireland’s national water infrastructure to an acceptable level. A €5.5 billion investment has been committed nationally to upgrade drinking water quality and supply, wastewater quality and capacity and new infrastructure up to 2021. Many projects are already underway in Cork City and County aimed at addressing the most serious deficiencies caused by decades of underinvestment.
€180 million to upgrade wastewater infrastructure
The €180m Irish Water plans to invest upgrading the wastewater network in Cork includes a €91 investment in Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Scheme, which will provide a new wastewater treatment plant serving Cobh, Carrigaline, Crosshaven, Passage West/Monkstown (including Glenbrook and Raffeen) and Ringaskiddy (including Shanbally and Coolmore). Work is already underway at the site in Shanbally where the new plant will start to treat wastewater from these towns in 2016 and be fully operational by 2018, bringing significant improvements to water quality in this area.
Construction is also underway and expected to be completed in 2017 on a new wastewater treatment plant at Youghal as part of a €22.9 million investment in the Youghal Main Drainage Project, including a major upgrade of the sewer network. Currently raw sewage from Youghal is discharged into the sea at Front Strand Beach, which was one of seven Irish beaches rated ’Poor’ in the recent EPA Bathing Water Quality Report. Once completed, bathing water quality at Front Strand and nearby beaches, such as Claycastle and Redbarn, will be significantly improved.
A further €7 million infrastructure project to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant at Clonakilty and carry out minor upgrades of 13 other wastewater treatment plants, ranging in size from larger plants at Bantry to smaller plants in Ardgroom and Kilmacsimon, is also nearing completion. Upgrade works at the Clonakilty plant include a doubling of the treatment capacity and the first deployment of an innovative new technology, Nereda®, in Ireland and the UK. A major €12.3 million upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant at Carrigtohill is also underway which will significantly increase the capacity of the existing plant.
Irish Water has also completed a €1.1 million construction of a new wastewater treatment plant at Riverstick. Upgrade to a section of water mains was also carried out in tandem to minimise disruptions to the local community. A further €3 million was also invested in upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant in Ballincollig, providing capacity at the plant to meet current and future population growth.
Further wastewater projects with an estimated total value of €50 million are at planning and design stage for towns across Cork including Ballyvourney/Ballymakeera, Bandon, Coachford, Courtmacsherry/Timoleague, Drimoleague, Dripsey, Dunmanway, Fermoy, Innishannon, Mallow, Millstreet, Mitchelstown, Saleen, Ballycotton, Castletownbere, Castletownshend, Inchigeelagh, and Whitegate/Aghada. A major study of the sewer network in Cork City is also being commissioned to plan further investment in this area.
Over €48 million to upgrade drinking water quality and supply
Irish Water’s work to reduce leakage nationally will save 180 million litres every day by 2021. A €15.8 million upgrade of water mains in Cork City is now underway, which will improve reliability of supply and reduce leakage in the city by approximately 18 million litres per week. The first phase of works is expected to be complete by February 2017. A significant upgrade and replacement of water mains in Mallow, Kinsale, Laharan Cross to Abbeys Well, Glantane to Lombardstown, Macroom and Doneraile has also been completed.
Irish Water will invest a further €33 million to upgrade drinking water quality and supply in Cork. This work includes:
- €5 million investment to upgrade Lee Road Water Treatment Plant and remove it from the Environmental Protection Agency Remedial Action List (RAL)
- €2.5 million investment on the Wilton to Lee Road Trunk Watermain
- €2.5 million investment in replacement of the Shankiel rising main, both upgrades are critical to ensuring security of water supply for Cork City
- €5 million investment to secure a sustainable drinking water supply and upgrade of the water network on Cape Clear.
- €12 million investment in the Skibbereen Regional Water Supply project to address water quality issues in Schull, Leap, Baltimore, Drimoleague and Skibbereen.
- €6 million investment in the upgrade of the Inniscarra Water Treatment Plant to provide adequate water sludge treatment facilities.
“Fixing the water and wastewater network to ensure our communities have clean safe drinking water and are protected from the discharge of untreated sewage will take many years of investment and a prioritised and continuous programme of work,” said Jerry Grant, Head of Asset Management, Irish Water. “Irish Water is committed to delivering on that task and ensuring the most serious deficiencies in each county are prioritised for investment. We are already making progress against the targets set out from now until 2021 with further investment planned beyond this timeframe.”
Irish Water invested €340 million in improving water and wastewater services in 2014 and will invest over €410 million in improving water services during 2015. This spend will increase over subsequent years. Capital investment in the region of €600 million per year is required for a sustained period of several decades, to address the acknowledged deficiencies in the country’s water infrastructure.