Our most precious resource
When we think of Water, the focus is typically on the water we use from our taps for drinking, washing and working. We rarely stop and think of what happens to that water once it is used and the importance of how this water is collected, treated and returned to the environment. Today is World Water Day and this year’s theme is wastewater with the focus on reduction and reuse of wastewater. This international observance day inspires people from around the world to learn more about water related issues.
It is Irish Water’s vision that ‘“effective water services, including the delivery of a sustainable and reliable clean water supply and safe disposal of wastewater, are essential for a modern country”. We will protect the environment in all our activities and support Ireland’s social and economic growth through appropriate investment in Water Services’. In Ireland, due to historic underinvestment in wastewater infrastructure, many wastewater treatment plants are operating well above capacity and in a number of areas wastewater is being discharged untreated into the environment. Since 2014, Irish Water has upgraded 32 wastewater treatment plants and built 27 new plants across Ireland and has earmarked investment to address the issues at 43 locations where untreated wastewater is going directly into rivers and the sea.
Important Wastewater Projects
Below are some of the key projects currently being undertaken by Irish Water to address wastewater issues across Ireland.
Arklow Wastewater Treatment Plant will develop a new Wastewater Treatment Plant (WwTP), sewer pipeline and marine outfall to treat wastewater from the homes and businesses in Arklow, which currently is discharging into the Avoca River untreated. This project will bring benefits to Arklow in terms of health, integrity of the environment and improved water quality for all.
The Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant is the largest wastewater treatment plant in Ireland and treats waste from the entire Greater Dublin Area. The plant is currently operating over its designed capacity. Irish Water plans to use new technology at Ringsend as part of the works which will maximise treatment capacity and efficiency at the plant, support economic and social development, improve treated effluent quality, lower emissions and facilitate the recovery of phosphorus for potential use in agriculture. Irish Water intends to lodge a planning application with An Bord Pleanála by end of 2017.
The Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project is required to significantly enhance the water quality in Cork Harbour. Currently, wastewater is discharged untreated into the Harbour and the development of a new wastewater treatment plant will ensure enhanced water quality. The sustainable wastewater treatment plant will bring benefits in terms of health, integrity of the environment and improved water quality for all who enjoy this wonderful natural resource. Cleaner water will enhance the Harbour’s amenity value and act as a platform for social and economic development. The project includes the capacity for future growth in the Harbour area. Construction is currently ongoing.
The Greater Dublin Drainage Project will develop a new regional wastewater treatment facility for greater Dublin and a Sludge Hub Centre for the treatment of wastewater sludge. Irish Water is working towards submission of planning this year.
As part of Irish Water’s work to address wastewater issues, we have undertaken a number of partnership programmes with the aim of promoting water conservation and highlighting the negative effects of sewage related litter in the environment. These include Green-Schools, Clean Coasts ‘Think before You Flush’ campaign and Tidy Towns as part of this mission. There are currently 504 schools working on the Irish Water sponsored Green-Schools Water Theme throughout Ireland, educating students to conserve water and effectively manage the valuable resource in our schools and homes.
The Irish Water sponsored Clean Coasts' ‘Think before You Flush’ campaign aims to tackle the problem of sewage related litter on Ireland’s beaches. Every day sanitary products and other items are flushed down the drain, causing problems in the private and public wastewater network and harm to the marine environment.
Irish Water, as Ireland’s national water and wastewater utility, is committed to the provision of safe and sustainable drinking water and the treatment of wastewater which allows for its safe return to the environment. We continue to work, not only to improve the treatment of water supplies and wastewater across the country, but also to raise awareness, through our sponsorship programmes, of how people can best conserve water and reduce wastewater, in line with the objectives of World Water Day.