Uisce Éireann marks key milestone in Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project

Minister Simon Coveney visits new wastewater treatment plant at Shanbally to mark commencement of operations and 50% reduction in raw sewage flowing into the harbour.

Uisce Éireann, in partnership with Cork County Council, today marked a key milestone in the €117 million Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project with the official announcement that the Shanbally Wastewater Treatment Plant has commenced operations and that 50% of the raw sewage previously discharging into the lower harbour from Carrigaline, Crosshaven and Shanbally is now treated and returned safely to sea.

From left to right: Richard Kent, Déaglán Healy, Brendan Hoare, Catherine Sheridan, Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Simon Coveney, Michael G O’Sullivan, Kevin O'Leary and John Buckley.

The project is delivering significant improvements to water quality in Cork Lower Harbour by ending the current practice of the discharge of raw sewage directly into the harbour. This scheme is designed to cater for the 20,000 existing homes and businesses along with planned domestic and commercial developments and future developments. The project is critical in terms of protecting the environment, facilitating economic development and providing for a growing population.

In addition to the commencement of operations at the treatment plant at Shanbally, work has also recently started on the repair and upgrade of the sewerage network on the south side of Cork Lower Harbour including Carrigaline, Monkstown, Passage West and Ringaskiddy, and work in Cobh is expected to start in 2018. On completion of the project all wastewater from Cobh, Passage West, Glenbrook, Monkstown, Carrigaline, Ringaskiddy and Shanbally will be diverted to the new wastewater treatment plant at Shanbally.

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Simon Coveney TD, joined other Oireachtas members and members of Cork County Council for a tour of the site in Shanbally this Monday morning.

Minister Coveney commented "This project is hugely important to improving the quality of water in Cork Lower Harbour. This will bring huge benefits to communities right across the harbour as we seek to promote this fantastic amenity at the heart of our city for visitors and residents alike. It is shocking that raw sewage has been discharged for so many years directly to the harbour, but we are now addressing this problem with an investment in wastewater infrastructure that will facilitate future growth and development and support tourism across the region.

I am delighted to see that so much progress has already been made and that the wastewater treatment plant at Shanbally is now operational. We’ve halved the level of raw sewage flowing directly into the harbour and we will continue to see the benefits as more areas are connected to the new treatment plant over the coming years. This investment by Uisce Éireann highlights the need for a national utility with the expertise and funding to address the deficits in water and wastewater infrastructure throughout the State."

Katherine Walshe, Southern Regional Operations Manager with Uisce Éireann, said "The development of world-class water and wastewater infrastructure is the priority for Uisce Éireann, and the completion of this new innovative wastewater treatment plant for Cork Lower Harbour is testament to our commitment to delivering on this. The provision of a secondary wastewater treatment plant for Cork Lower Harbour is a requirement under both European and national legislation and we are delighted that wastewater from Carrigaline, Crosshaven and Shanbally is today being treated at the plant."

"We continue to progress with the development of the sewer network across the harbour to ensure that all wastewater is subject to full treatment by 2019. This is part of a long-term investment in wastewater in Cork, as part of our national commitment to ending the practice of discharging untreated sewage to rivers and the sea by 2021. We thank the local communities for their support to date and we will continue to work closely with local residents and businesses to ensure this work can be carried out with the minimum level of inconvenience and disruption."

The Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Seamus McGrath, added "Today’s event marks a major milestone in the Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project. Before this project got underway, an average of 40,000 wheelie bins worth of raw sewage were being discharged into the harbour every day. This is now been reduced by half and by the time this project is complete, it will have been reduced to zero. This is great news for the environment, the people of Cork and the future of our harbour."