Investment needed to cut Ireland’s raw sewage discharge, finds EPA report

Last year untreated sewage was discharged at 45 different urban areas in Ireland, with over half of these incidents in the three counties of Cork, Donegal and Galway...

Wastewater

Wastewater

Last year untreated sewage was discharged at 45 different urban areas in Ireland, with over half of these incidents in the three counties of Cork, Donegal and Galway.

That’s according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Urban Waste Water Treatment Report for 2014.

Investment is needed in wastewater infrastructure to eliminate the discharge of raw sewage from urban areas to meet European Union standards, the EPA said.

Key findings of the report on infrastructure and effluent quality included:

· 143 out of the 174 large urban areas (82%) achieve the mandatory EU quality standards. This figure is up 8% in two years.

· 45 areas had no wastewater treatment and discharged raw sewage.

· Twelve large urban areas did not meet the Directive’s requirement to provide secondary treatment.

· Seven large urban areas did not meet the Directive’s requirement to provide infrastructure to reduce nutrients and did not meet nutrient quality standards.

Key findings on the management and operation of plants:

· Operational improvements are required at 57 urban areas, which have sufficient treatment capacity but failed to meet the effluent quality standards.

· 21% of incidents at wastewater plants were attributed to issues surrounding operation and maintenance.

Key findings in relation to the receiving environment:

· Wastewater discharges contributed to poor bathing water quality at seven designated bathing waters in 2014, including Youghal and Rush.

· There is just one seriously polluted river site (Bredagh, Moville) where pollution is caused by urban wastewater discharges. This is down from six in 2013.

Gerard O’Leary, director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement, said: “A reversal of the decline in capital expenditure seen in recent years is needed to eliminate the discharge of raw sewage from our environment and allow Ireland to meet EU standards."

David Flynn, programme manager of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement, added: “As well as investing in capital works, the operation and management of existing waste water plants needs to improve. Audits of sewage plants undertaken by the EPA had found in some cases inadequate maintenance and operation of plant and equipment.”

Flynn added: “One fifth of all pollution incidents at sewage plants could be prevented by better management and operation of treatment plants.”

The report is now available on the EPA Website.

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