17th December

Raw, untreated sewage continues to pump into Irish water

Ireland's coastal waters, lakes and rivers continue to be polluted by untreated sewage pumping from 45 urgan areas, over half of which are in counties Cork, Donegal and Galway. 143 out of 174 or 82% of large urban areas meet mandatory EU quality standards, up 8% in two years. 

EPA waste water 2014 report edited 1

The EPA Urban Waste Water Treatment Report for 2014 highlights the need for investment in waste water infrastructure to eliminate the discharge of raw sewage and to meet EU standards intended to prevent adverse environmental and public health risks. 

“Sewage discharges continue to impact our environment with counties Cork, Donegal and Galway the worst affected areas," remarked Gerard O'Leary, EPA, director of environmental enforcement.

A reduction in capital expenditure must be reversed, he 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," added David Flynn, EPA programme manager.

One fifth of all pollution incidents at sewage plants could be prevented by better management and operation of treatment plants, he said.

Key findings:

• 143 out of the 174 large urban areas (82%) achieve the mandatory EU quality standards - up 8% in two years.

• 45 areas had no waste water 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.

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

• 21% of incidents at waste water plants were attributed to operation and maintenance

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

• 1 seriously polluted river site (Bredagh, Moville) where pollution is caused by urban waste water discharges - down from six in 2013.

 The report is now available on the EPA Website at: http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/water/wastewater/

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