Key milestones achieved one year on as horizon looks bright for Arklow

24 October 2022

Arklow is a town steeped in history. Ever since the Vikings made landfall in the 8th century, the town has embraced its sea-faring traditions and today is a bustling urban area with a population of 12,000. The Avoca River and Irish Sea dominate the landscape and are at the centre of life and commerce. A lot has been achieved since the sod was turned just over a year ago to mark the €139 million investment by Irish Water to construct a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant in Arklow. Once operational the plant will eliminate the equivalent of 14,000 wheelie bins per day of untreated wastewater entering the Avoca River.

Irish Water continues to make substantial progress in advancing this essential project for the people of Arklow. Looking back since the first overturned sod marked the beginning of a busy year of construction, the existing buildings on the treatment plant site were demolished and the inlet pump station and the treatment plant buildings have progressed significantly. Out in the town on the network sites, the underground tunnel along the North Quay containing a new interceptor sewer has been completed. The river crossing tunnel and the installation of a new interceptor sewer on the South Quay has started and will continue into 2023.

The project will bring significant benefits to the local community including environmental protection and improved water quality in the River Avoca for angling, water sports, and marine life. It will also act as a catalyst for housing and support economic growth and development in the town.

Speaking about the benefits of this essential project for the local community, Paul Fallon, Programme Manager at Irish Water, said “This project once completed will end the unacceptable practice of discharging untreated sewage into the Avoca River. The Arklow Wastewater Treatment Plant project demonstrates how Irish Water is delivering infrastructure that is critical for the health and economy of our communities across Wicklow and Ireland. The provision of adequate wastewater treatment, in a manner that protects the natural environment and subsequently our health, is essential to the growth and development of this beautiful town.

Arklow’s Viking trading heritage came with a modern twist during the Summer as a long sea outfall pipe measuring 310 meters in length was shipped 1,000kms across the open sea from Norway to Arklow Port alluding to times past. This pipe has been successfully installed along the seabed using specialised equipment and marine vessels, which will safely discharge treated wastewater to the Irish Sea, when the new treatment plant is operational.

Paul added, “The sea outfall pipe alone, which forms an integral part of the overall project, will help protect the Avoca River and this scenic coastline, and will enhance the tourism value of the historic town of Arklow.

This project represents another major milestone in Irish Water’s capital investment journey to end the unacceptable practice of discharging untreated sewage into our waterways and sea. 60% of all raw sewage discharges by volume have been eliminated since the establishment of Irish Water and Arklow is the largest remaining town without treatment. The commencement of this project and the progress made throughout 2021 and 2022 means that we are on track to eliminate the vast majority of raw sewage discharges in Ireland  by 2025. As we look to the future, the next phase of project will involve works in parts of the Avoca River. The works are scheduled to begin before the end of the year and will take approximately three months to complete. Irish Water will continue to keep the community of Arklow informed about the next phase and progression of these essential works.

Irish Water would like to thank the people of Arklow for their continued support and cooperation while we progress this important project.

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.