Irish Water, Ireland’s national water utility responsible for providing and developing water and wastewater services throughout Ireland, is making significant progress in addressing the most serious deficiencies with Ireland’s wastewater treatment. Following publication today of the EPA’s Urban Wastewater Report 2014, the utility confirmed that €320 million has been invested in new and upgraded wastewater infrastructure in 2014 and 2015 and that it expects to invest more than €2 billion on wastewater infrastructure up to 2021. Irish Water has committed to ending the unacceptable discharge of untreated sewage from 45 locations across the country in that time and to prioritising solutions for 83 wastewater treatment schemes that are currently the subject of European Court of Justice cases against Ireland for longstanding breaches of European Directives. 

Irish Water has completed new wastewater and upgraded treatment plants across the country in 2015 including those at Cavan, Clonakilty, Clifden, Dunmore East, Ardmore, Carrigtwohill, Leixlip, Lismore and Cheekpoint. Further investment will deliver new and upgraded treatment solutions at Swords, Rush, Ringsend, Osberstown, Youghal, Cork Lower Harbour, Bundoran Killybegs, Convoy, Kinvara, Athea (Limerick), Belmullet and Tubercurry in 2016 and 2017.

In 2019 Irish Water will end the discharge of untreated wastewater from the 7 large urban areas identified in the EPA report”, said Jerry Grant, Head of Asset Management with Irish Water. “By 2021 this practice will have ended completely as a result of the detailed programme of work already underway.”

The EPA report also identifies 57 plants which have sufficient design capacity but have operational issues leading to non-compliance. Irish Water has made significant progress in the past year to address compliance issues in its existing plants without the need for additional significant investment. A process optimisation team was established in mid-2014 and already the operation of almost 300 wastewater treatment plants has been reviewed, on a priority basis and in consultation with the EPA. These site evaluations have produced 1,800 site-specific recommendations for improvements and identified more than 300 smaller investments that will enable Irish Water to treat wastewater more effectively.

Meeting the wastewater compliance challenge nationally will require significant investment for years to come but not everything can or should be addressed by capital investment,” explained Jerry Grant. “Process optimisation is a priority for Irish Water so that we can get the best out of the assets we have. Only as a national utility can we provide the expertise and fully integrated national asset management support to implement the recommendations from our audits. We will work with Local Authorities in local implementation teams to bring our plants into compliance and ensure their long term sustainability”, Jerry Grant said. “As a utility we can implement an industry operating model that combines automation and monitoring, standard operating procedures (SOP’s), planned maintenance, flow and load management and development of centres of excellence. This approach will ensure that we will build a capable efficient high quality industry that invests in, and maintains its assets, in the most efficient and effective way in the long term."

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