Regional sludge hub centres
Uisce Éireann has assessed wastewater treatment plants as potential sludge hub centres so that sludge can be treated more effectively and efficiently.
Wastewater sludge management
Sludge is generated from the treatment of wastewater, but once it is produced it needs to be treated so that it is safe for either disposal or re-use. Since 2014, Uisce Éireann has been building and upgrading wastewater treatment plants nationwide. The volume of sludge is increasing year on year and is predicted to continue to increase as our population continues to grow.
In 2016, Uisce Éireann published the National Wastewater Sludge Management Plan (NWSMP). The plan sets out a nationwide strategy to deliver a sustainable and standardised approach to managing wastewater sludge now and over the next 25 years. To find out more about the plan, visit our National Wastewater Sludge Management Plan page.
Uisce Éireann has published the Site Selection Methodology Consultation reports for the East Midlands, South and North West regions.
Uisce Éireann published the Site Selection Methodology Reports (SSMR) for the Sludge Hubs Centres project in September 2019. Following the publication of these reports, Uisce Éireann held a non-statutory public consultation, inviting feedback from members of the public and stakeholders on the SSMR. Reports have been prepared to provide detail on the consultation activities that were carried out and to provide a summary of the feedback that was received following the publication of the SSMR for the East Midlands, North West and Southern Regions.
Why do we need sludge hub centres?
Sludge is generated from the treatment of wastewater in plants around the country. As Uisce Éireann upgrades and builds new plants, the volume of sludge produced continues to increase. Between now and 2040, the NWSMP estimates that the volume of sludge produced will increase by 80%. This means that many sludge management facilities are either at or nearing capacity which is inefficient and unsustainable. Uisce Éireann needs to plan for now and the future so that sludge can be treated and disposed of safely and in a way that does not pose a risk to public health, the environment or agricultural lands by increasing the capacity of sludge management facilities.
The transportation of sludge for disposal or re-use is costly because of the volumes that are currently produced. The majority of sludge being transported is currently 95% to 99% water. Uisce Éireann has been developing ways of reducing sludge volumes for the most efficient movement of sludge, to achieve the best balance between the cost of sludge transport and treatment to reduce the volume of sludge. This includes the proposed satellite dewatering centres, which is another Uisce Éireann project to reduce the volume of sludge through a process of water removal prior to transportation to sludge hub centres.
What are the benefits of sludge hub centres?
Optimising the number of sludge hub centres is a critical part of a more efficient national sludge management system. Uisce Éireann is increasing the amount of sludge hub centres so that sludge can be treated in a more effective and efficient way. Increasing sludge treatment facilities will:
- Lower traffic movements and reduce transport emissions by reducing the amount of sludge that needs to be transported and the distance it needs to travel
- Reduce operating costs per kg of sludge treated
- Promote energy recovery