13 June 2016 Go back to News
Irish Water and Fingal County Council working to resolve drainage issues affecting beaches in Fingal
Following a meeting at Hampton Cove pumping station earlier today, between Acting Head of Operations with Irish Water, Gerry Duane, Fingal County Council CEO Paul Reid and Mayor of Fingal, Cllr David O’Connor, Irish Water apologises for the ongoing inconvenience and disruption caused by the recent pollution incidents to beach users in the Fingal area.
Irish Water and Fingal County Council are working closely to resolve the drainage issues in Fingal, which have affect the bathing water at some beaches. Irish Water and Fingal County Council want to ensure disruption is minimised in future. In all cases we prioritise the health and safety of the public and the temporary closure of bathing water is reflective of this.
Currently Irish Water is investing €85m in wastewater projects in Fingal that are either at planning, design or construction stages. These projects will increase the capacity within the wastewater network in Fingal and will to cater for future development of the area and growth in population whilst reducing the number of combined sewer overflows.
In relation to the recent issues at Hampton Cove, Balbriggan, Irish Water has put in place a programme of work to resolve the problems identified with both the capacity of the pumps and the overall operation of the pumping station so that the risk of overflows after heavy rainfall is minimised in future. When dry weather is followed by a period of heavy rainfall this can result in very high loads washing through the public drainage system over a short period of time. This leads to rags and other materials that should not be flushed down toilets, building up in sewers during dry weather before being washed down to treatment plants and pumping stations at a rate that can be 40 to 50 times the normal load of this kind of material when there is very heavy rain. In simple terms, the pumps at Hampton Cove are not capable of dealing with these ‘shock’ events. To reduce the risk of this problem occurring in the future, Irish Water is now reviewing how pumping works at Hampton Cove to ensure that the pumps in place are able to deal with both normal and high loads. Irish Water will replace the pumps at Hampton Cove Pumping Station, should this be required following the review. Irish Water is also reviewing and will implement measures to improve the operational effectiveness of the Station. Irish Water will endeavour to resolve this issue without delay.
With regards to the beaches in the Rush area, the contract for the connection of the drainage system in Rush to the new wastewater treatment plant at Portrane will be signed in the coming weeks. This contract, which has been a priority for Irish Water since it took over responsibility for water services in 2014, will permanently stop the discharge of all untreated sewage in the Rush area that has been ongoing for decades. We expect that work will be complete in Rush by the end of 2018 and will be an investment of €9.7m.
Loughshinny was also temporarily closed to bathers due to material found on the beach by Fingal County Council. Irish Water has a project in place to replace the old Waste Water Treatment Plant in Loughshinny and pump the flows into Skerries. The contract for this project will go to tender late in 2016 but the delivery is linked to another sewerage upgrade contract in Skerries which is out to tender currently. It is planned that the Loughshinny Waste Water Plant will be closed by 2019. The combined investment in these two projects is €6.5M.
Some of the wider problems with the sewer network across Fingal and the rest of the country will require longer term solutions and significant investment to fix them permanently. Unfortunately ‘overflows’ such as the one that has led to discharges of sewage at Portmarnock after heavy rainfall, are an integral part of our urban sewerage systems. This means that in periods of intense rainfall, such as we have had for the past two weekends, the drainage system is designed to overflow into nearby water, causing a short term pollution incident but importantly, avoiding the flooding of premises and streets with sewage and runoff. These types of challenges that have been an issue for many decades and require significant long term strategic investment. Irish Water is committed to making this investment and rolling out at Drainage Area Plan programme the first stage of which is underway and has an approved budget of €30M. Irish Water have a further 2 Tranches to progress under CIP 2017-2021 and these will represent up to an additional €30M of investment. A number of these works are in the Fingal Area and will benefit communities in Swords, Malahide, North Fringe, Portmarnock.