Representatives of Irish Water recently attended a meeting of Athea Community Council in Co. Limerick to brief the local community on a long awaited solution it is implementing to deal with sewage related pollution in the village. At the moment, sewage from approximately 400 homes in Athea discharges with minimal treatment into the River Galey, a tributary of the River Feale, causing serious local pollution.

The Athea plant has been identified by Irish Water for urgent upgrade as a pilot project using a simple modular water treatment system. If the pilot is successful, Irish Water plans to implement this model nationally on a very cost effective basis to similar towns and villages right across the country, that otherwise would have had to wait for larger schemes to be developed, to address localised chronic pollution.

Aisling Buckley, Regional Information Officer with Irish Water explained, “The previous plans for Athea and similar schemes in Limerick and elsewhere were for bundled schemes to be built and operated by contractors over a 20 year timescale. This approach led to oversizing and consequent high cost projections and the continued postponement of the grouped schemes as larger projects delivering greater value for money were prioritised.”

With the new approach we are piloting in Athea, Irish Water plans to develop a number of standard treatment solutions, appropriately sized to cater for current needs and modest population growth that can be replicated in similar towns and villages across the country. This is a very cost effective way to deliver upgrades and address localised pollution in a shorter timeframe. This kind of plant design also allows for modular expansion, if required in future,” Aisling explained.

The plant in Athea is being sized on the same basis as all other capital projects being planned by Irish Water, allowing for up to 10% population growth locally. Technical consultants have been appointed to prepare detailed designs for the plant and planning documents for submission to Limerick County Council in approximately 3 months time. Subject to the necessary approval being granted construction should take approximately 12 months to complete.


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