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National Wastewater Sludge Management Plan

The National Wastewater Sludge Management Plan (NWSMP) sets out a nationwide standardised approach to ensure that treated wastewater sludge is effectively managed, stored, transported, and re-used in a sustainable way, to safeguard public health and the environment. 

Uisce Éireann has commenced the process of reviewing and updating the NWSMP. The proposed revision of the plan will provide a progress update on the recommendations in the original current NWSMP. It will include detail on sludge management and how these activities address climate change, sustainability, and circular economy initiatives. The revised plan will also address changes in legislation and good practice which have evolved in the period since publication of the current plan in 2016.

Uisce Éireann is engaging with the environmental statutory authorities on the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Scoping Report. 

Why is the NWSMP needed?

With an increase in complex challenges such as climate change, net zero targets, wastewater treatment processes and population growth, Uisce Éireann is committed to delivering wastewater infrastructure that meets the needs of society and protects and improves our environment into the future.  

The implementation of the NWSMP addresses these challenges by providing a framework and standard for the sustainable management of wastewater sludge from treatment to reuse.

The NWSMP takes into account current legislation and guidance documents in relation to the treatment and utilisation of wastewater sludge/biosolids, in addition to potential environmental impacts and sustainability of proposals. The recommendations of the NWSMP are used to inform future capital and operational activities in relation to wastewater sludge management.

NWSMP infographic

The current NWSMP

Uisce Éireann adopted the first National Wastewater Sludge Management Plan (NWSMP) in 2016 outlining our strategy for managing wastewater sludge over a 25-year period.

An information brochure summarising the key measures included in the NWSMP is available here.

View summary booklet.

Environmental Assessment and Consultation

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA) were carried out in parallel with the development of the NWSMP. The general public, interested parties and statutory bodies have been involved in the development of the NWSMP as part of the SEA and AA process through public consultation at keys stages.  All feedback received during the public consultations was reviewed by the project team and relevant feedback has been incorporated into the final NWSMP. The SEA Statement outlines how environmental considerations have been integrated into the NWSMP and how consultation influenced the development of the NWSMP. 

Review of the NWSMP and Environmental Assessments

Uisce Éireann has now commenced the process of reviewing and updating the NWSMP.

As part of the review and update of the NWSMP, Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA) will be carried out. 

SEA assesses the likely significant environmental effects of implementing a plan or programme. The SEA of the revised NWSMP is currently at scoping stage. At this stage of the SEA process, the relevant environmental issues and the level of detail they should be assessed to, are determined. Uisce Éireann is engaging with the environmental statutory authorities on the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Scoping Report.

AA is an assessment of the potential adverse effects of a plan or project on Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protected Areas (SPA). These are designated areas under EU Law (the Habitats and Birds Directive) and are designed to meet conservation objectives. The AA of the revised NWSMP is currently at Screening Stage. The NWSMP has been ‘screened in’ for AA. 

Engineer-on-roadwork-site

What happens next

There will be an eight-week public consultation on the draft revised NWSMP, the SEA Environmental Report, and Natura Impact Statement in late 2024 / early 2025.