What is involved?

  • Increase the capacity of the wastewater treatment plant to serve a population equivalent of 6,200 residents by expanding and upgrading it
  • Install two transfer pipelines beneath the River Blackwater to connect the existing wastewater treatment plant with the new infrastructure
  • Construct two new settlement tanks and outfall pipe and install new reed beds which will receive and dewater treated sludge 
  • Carry out flood defence works to reduce the risk of flooding at the existing wastewater treatment plant site including bank repair works along a section of the River Blackwater.

Proven Methods to dewater sludge

A successful method of sludge dewatering throughout Ireland and the UK is the use of reed beds. Sludge Drying Reed Beds is a natural treatment process in which the reeds naturally treat sludge. It provides a sustainable and cost-effective solution for the long-term treatment of sludge from wastewater. The daily operation and maintenance of the reed beds is minimal, only requiring emptying almost every 10years. 

The process reduces transport movements and emissions, while also substantially reducing costs associated with the treatment process. They are low-technology, energy-efficient, and do not require addition of chemicals.  

Irish Water successfully operate several Reed Beds for dewatering of Treated Activated Sludges in County Carlow. Examples of these Reed Beds are shown below.


Economic benefits 

  • Increased treatment capacity of the plant to support social and economic growth across Enfield, Johnstown Bridge and the surrounding area.
  • Significantly reduce operational and maintenance costs as the reed beds are only required to be emptied once every 10 years.
  • Traffic benefits
  • Result in a reduction of sludge tanker movements from the facility.

Environmental benefits

  • Significantly reduce energy consumptions and carbon emissions associated with the traditional wastewater treatment process. Reed beds also act as natural carbon sequester, removing carbon from the atmosphere.
  • Creation of sustainable, biodegraded, chemical-free fertiliser, reducing the burden on landfills.
  • Enhance biodiversity at the sites through habitat creation and eliminate the need for chemicals to be added to the treatment process. 
  • The project will ensure that the water quality standards set down by regulatory bodies such as the Environmental Protection Agency will be achieved.

Next steps

Irish Water is progressing with plans for this project and will submit a planning application to Meath County Council in the coming weeks.

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