Irish Water marks the end of the discharge of raw sewage from Cobh Town

06 September 2021

Irish Water and Cork County Council today marked a significant milestone in the Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project to end the decades-long practice of discharging raw sewage into Cork Lower Harbour, protecting the environment and supporting the sustainable development and growth of local communities in the years to come.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin officially opened the Cork Dockyard Pumping Station, which transfers raw sewage from Cobh for treatment.

This last step in the Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project means that 20,000 homes and businesses are now connected to the overall scheme and that the equivalent of 40,000 wheelie bins of raw sewage no longer discharges daily to the waters of the harbour. This is good news for recreation, tourism and economic development in the area.

Speaking at the official opening, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “This is a historic day for the communities living in and around Cork Lower Harbour, completing a project that ensures a cleaner harbour, and provides new opportunities for sustainable social and economic development.

We have already seen the benefits that this project has brought to Ringaskiddy, Shanbally, Crosshaven, Carrigaline, Passage West and Monkstown.

This final stage will add to that improvement – providing further capacity for growth and enhancing the wonderful amenity that is Cork Harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world.

Mayor of Cork County Council, Cllr Gillian Coughlan said: “The ending of raw sewage discharges from Cobh town will make a huge difference to the town and surrounding area, by providing opportunities for sustainable development around Cork Lower Harbour and increasing the potential for tourism and recreational activities in the area.

Eamon Gallen, Irish Water’s General Manager, said: “Today is a hugely significant milestone in Irish water’s work to eliminate raw sewage discharges in Ireland.

The completion of this work brings to 17 the number of towns and villages across the country where Irish Water has built new wastewater infrastructure since 2014. Well over half of the raw sewage entering waterways in Ireland has now been eliminated and we are on track to fully remove the majority of raw sewage discharges in Ireland by 2025. This represents an overall investment of €650 million towards improving water quality in our rivers, lakes and seas, ensuring compliance with Irish and European legislation to the benefit of our local communities, our environment and our economy.

Déaglán Healy, Irish Water’s project manager, added: “We have come a long way since we started work on this project in 2014.

When we started, the equivalent of 40,000 wheelie bins of raw sewage was discharging into Cork Harbour every day. We built a state of the art wastewater treatment plant in Shanbally and connected existing networks in Crosshaven and Carrigaline to the plant, so that half of this sewage was treated by 2017. We expanded the sewer network to connect the towns of Ringaskiddy, Shanbally, Passage West and Monkstown, by early 2019. We then created a vital link between Cobh and Monkstown by completing two of the longest directional drills in the country to install sewer pipes some 60m under the Estuary.

Today, after two years working to expand the sewer network in Cobh, we are now transferring the raw sewage from Cobh for treatment via that Estuary Crossing, before its safe discharge to sea – it’s a great day. I am proud to have worked on this project and I am thankful to all those that have contributed to make this a reality. The Cobh Network works have been delivered safely through a hugely collaborative effort between Irish Water, Cork County Council, Nicholas O Dwyer, Farrans Sorensen Joint Venture and of course, all the communities and businesses whose cooperation and patience have allowed these works to succeed. I’d like to say a huge thank you to all.

Irish Water is working at this time, with our local authority partners, contractors and others to safeguard the health and well-being of staff and the public and to ensure the continuity of drinking water and wastewater services.

For more information on the project, please contact the project team at corklowerharbour@water.ie or view our Cork Lower Harbour project page.

Irish Water is committed to keeping customers informed about their water and wastewater supplies across multiple platforms 24/7 and we encourage customers to engage with us on our Twitter channels @IWCare and @IrishWater, on Facebook and LinkedIn, through our customer care helpline which is open 24/7 on 1800 278 278 and by setting their location on our website.

Johanna Murphy, Cobh and Harbour Chamber President, Tony Keohane, Chairman Ervia Board, An Taoiseach Micheal Martin TD, Eamon Gallen, General Manager Irish Water, Cllr Gillian Coughlan, Mayor Cork County Council