Irish Water turns sod on landmark project in Omeath

01 April 2022

Irish Water, in partnership with Louth County Council, today marked the start of construction on a new state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant and supporting infrastructure that will provide wastewater treatment for the first time for Omeath and surrounding areas. When completed, the new treatment plant will bring significant benefits to the local community in terms of protecting the environment and improving water quality in Carlingford Lough for angling, water sports and marine life. It will also act as an enabler for housing and support economic growth and development in the area. 

A sod turning ceremony to officially mark the start of works took place this morning and was led by the Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Peter Burke TD and supported by Cathaoirleach of Louth County Council, Councillor Pio Smith, and representatives from Irish Water and Louth County Council. The landmark event was also attended by local TD, Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú, Senator Erin McGreehan, Colm Markey MEP and members of the local community including primary school students from Scoil Naomh Lorcan in Omeath, and transition year and leaving cert students from Coláiste Chu Chulainn Secondary School in Dundalk.

Minister Burke commended Irish Water for progressing the project saying: “I am delighted to be here today to officially turn the sod and mark the commencement of works on the Omeath Sewerage Scheme. The construction of this new Wastewater Treatment Plant and associated infrastructure is pivotal for the future growth and development of Omeath and surrounding areas, and for the successful delivery of housing. Irish Water is to be commended for progressing this vital project as part of its commitment to the people of Omeath. The provision of a reliable wastewater service, in a manner that protects the natural environment, is essential to the economic and social development of this area. I would like to commend those involved in bringing the project to this important day and I would like to wish the project team well as they progress this much needed wastewater project.

Colm Claffey, Regional Delivery Lead with Irish Water, added: “We are delighted to begin works on this essential project for the people of Omeath. Eliminating the discharge of untreated wastewater into Carlingford Lough has always been a priority for Irish Water and we look forward to ending this current practice, safeguarding the local environment and enhancing tourism opportunities for this beautiful part of the country.

The size and scale of the challenge of raw sewage discharging into our water ways is well documented. Since 2014, Irish Water has built new wastewater infrastructure for 17 towns and villages across the country, ending the discharge of raw sewage into our rivers, lakes and seas; the equivalent of 100,000 people’s worth, every day. 

Omeath was one of 13 locations nationwide where Irish Water awarded contracts in 2021 to end the discharge of raw sewage. So far in 2022 we have awarded contracts for 2 additional locations with more to follow in the coming months. 60% of the raw sewage entering waterways in Ireland has now been eliminated and we are on track to fully removing the majority of raw sewage discharges by 2025. We look forward to working closely with the local community on the project.

The project, which represents an investment of €11 million, includes the construction of a new, state of the art, wastewater treatment plant that has been designed to provide wastewater treatment for a PE (population equivalent) of up to 1,600, a new network pump station with emergency storage, the installation of new sewer pipelines, and the upgrade and extension of the existing outfall pipe to safely discharge treated effluent to Carlingford Lough in compliance with regulatory standards.

The project is being delivered under the Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) Programme on behalf of Irish Water by Veolia Water Ireland Limited, which encourages early engagement and collaboration, allowing contractors to come on board much earlier in the delivery process, resulting in greater scope for innovation in design and construction, and improved efficiencies and timelines.

Cathaoirleach of Louth County Council, Cllr Pio Smith added: “I’m honoured to be here to witness this historic event. The commencement of this vital sewerage infrastructure development will lead to enhanced tourism opportunities for this beautiful part of the country. Stopping the discharge of untreated wastewater to Carlingford Lough has long been a goal of Louth County Council, and we can now look forward to all the benefits of a cleaner environment. I very much welcome the investment from Irish Water in conjunction with Louth County Council.

Also commenting on the project and its benefits to local businesses, Sean Farrell, President of Dundalk Chamber of Commerce, said “Wastewater infrastructure that is fit for purpose is essential for Omeath in order to support businesses and drive economic growth. This project will support existing and future commercial development by ensuring adequate capacity for future growth, significantly contributing to the overall economic health of the community."

The start of this project marks another major milestone in Irish Water’s work to end the unacceptable practice of discharging untreated sewage into our waterways and seas. 60% of the raw sewage entering waterways in Ireland has now been eliminated since the establishment of Irish Water in 2014. The commencement of this project and progress this year and next means we are on track to eliminate the vast majority of raw sewage discharges by 2025. 

Irish Water is responsible for the delivery of all public water and wastewater services in Ireland. We are committed to continuously upgrading and developing critical infrastructure to support the growth needed in housing and across our economy, while protecting the environment and safeguarding water supplies.