Irish Water notes the EPA’s annual Urban Wastewater Treatment Report published today (12 November).  As outlined in the report significant progress has been made to date by Irish Water with the delivery of critical wastewater projects around the country in addition to a portfolio of key projects at construction and planning phases. 

Progress on wastewater in 2019 

  • €308m investment in wastewater in 2019. An increase of €78 million on 2018 
  • 50% reduction since 2014 in the amount of untreated and inadequately treated wastewater that was being discharged to our rivers, lakes and the sea
  • 7 areas of the country brought into full compliance with EU standards
  • 2 locations where we have stopped the discharge of raw sewage
  • 13 locations where Irish Water upgraded or built wastewater treatment plants: 
    • Passage Monkstown
    • Manorhamilton 
    • Mohill
    • Convoy
    • Athernry
    • Kilmeague
    • Portlaw
    • Courtmacsherry-Timoleague
    • Lahardane
    • Athea
    • Castleblaney
    • Tubbercurry
    • Ballymore
  • 5 sites removed from the ECJ case
  • 391km sewers assessed
  • 52km sewers cleaned
  • 60km sewers rehabilitated

Speaking about progress and challenges in delivering wastewater projects Managing Director of Irish Water, Niall Gleeson said: “Irish Water’s investment plan prioritises the need to support housing and development with our obligations to protect the environment. We are making real and tangible progress working with local communities to deliver critical infrastructure which has suffered from years of historic underinvestment.  

“Since 2014 we have made considerable progress in removing 130 areas from the priority area list, and have plans for the majority of the remaining 113 areas. We are always striving to prioritise the best possible service improvements, while maximising value-for-money with funding available. 

“Progress across a portfolio of projects has been slower than anticipated as we deal with an unprecedented level of statutory and planning issues. The list of projects and programmes is continuously being refined based on new and emerging needs and is subject to budget, technical and environmental constraints, as well as statutory approval.

“Delivering new infrastructure where it never existed presents a range of challenges - from competing investment priorities, to community support, to planning consents in addition to land acquisition which can take to up to two years for just one project. Indeed, there is a concerning upward trend in the number of acquisitions subject to CPO orders which remains a last resort.
“Ensuring that everywhere in Ireland has public infrastructure for adequately treating wastewater is one of the key aims of Irish Water. This has to be balanced against the rights of communities and landowners to be adequately consulted before wastewater treatment infrastructure is installed or expanded. Since its establishment, Irish Water has worked extensively with communities, elected representatives and relevant stakeholders to address concerns and ensure that the location, design and operation of any new wastewater infrastructure does not negatively impact on the community or the wider environment. This is an exhaustive process that requires detailed consultation and environmental research in addition to extensive modelling and resources. 
“Irish Water would like to thank the communities and stakeholders in these areas for their engagement, feedback and patience during the planning, construction and commissioning of each of these facilities. Despite some delays we expect to start work next year in 12 more communities where raw sewage is being discharged with the work in majority of the remaining areas to start in 2022 and 2023. Delivering the critical wastewater infrastructure to meet the needs of our growing population remains a challenge that requires significant investment and extensive engagement which will take years to fully address.”

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