Irish Water in partnership with Donegal County Council, is working to end the decades long practice of discharging raw sewage directly into rivers and the sea. Since 2014, Irish Water has built new wastewater infrastructure for Bundoran, Killybegs and Saint Johnston. As a direct result of building these new wastewater plants we have reduced the volume of raw sewage being discharged by 60% in Donegal.

Irish Water has plans in place to invest further in Co Donegal over the coming years to facilitate ongoing improvements to the county’s wastewater treatment infrastructure. Irish Water is committed to ending the discharge of raw sewage into the environment with the construction of new wastewater treatment plants and network infrastructure to ensure that wastewater is adequately treated.

Irish Water is actively working with eight different communities in Co Donegal with the aim of eliminating the discharge of raw sewage to rivers and sea including in Burtonport, Falcarragh, Kerrykeel, Kilcar, Milford, Moville, Ramelton and Rathmullan. Each project is progressing through the various design, planning and statutory processes required to build such wastewater treatment facilities.

Commenting on the progress of these wastewater projects in Co Donegal Colm Claffey, Regional Delivery Lead with Irish Water said: “In Donegal, we are working hard to progress projects to address the remaining locations where raw sewage is being discharged. Land acquisition and planning permission have been obtained for the new wastewater treatment plants in Kilcar and Kerrykeel and we will commence works in these towns in 2021.  

Planning applications have been submitted for Burtonport, Rathmullan and Ramelton and subject to the necessary permissions required, works in Burtonport will commence in 2021 with works in Rathmullan and Ramelton to follow in 2022. Irish Water is also advancing plans to address untreated discharges from Moville and Coolatee.” 

Colm added: “While significant achievements have been made with the construction of new wastewater infrastructure in Bundoran, Killybegs and Saint Johnston as well as wastewater infrastructure upgrades in Glencolumbkille, Letterkenny, Convoy, Ballybofey/Stranorlar, Glenties and Dungloe, and the progression of projects in Gweedore, Irish Water acknowledges the size and scale of the challenges facing us. These include challenges associated with planning and land acquisition, as well as the need to reprioritise investment to respond to emerging needs which have all resulted in slower progress than initially forecast.

We ask the publics continued support while these remaining projects progress through the relevant statutory processes. Irish Water’s objective is to improve water quality in our rivers, lakes and seas and to improve the aquatic environment for local communities, swimmers, surfers and other users. We look forward to working with local communities throughout Co Donegal in the coming years in achieving these common goals.”  

Significant capital investment is needed over a sustained period of several decades to address the poor condition of Ireland’s water and wastewater infrastructure. Works have been prioritised to address the most critical issues in line with commitments outlined in the Government’s Water Services Policy Statement and Irish Water’s Strategic Funding Plan. Irish Water has invested €3.8 billion in water and wastewater infrastructure to the end of 2019 and plans to invest a further €5.2 billion under its Capital Investment Programme from 2020 to 2024 in drinking water and wastewater quality and capacity and new infrastructure.


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