EPA Report finds Wastewater Treatment Failures a Danger to Public

The EPA has released a report Urban Waste Water Treatment in 2016 and it highlights the need for significant funding to address the legacy of under-investment in infrastructure.

EPA Report Wastewater Treatment 2017

       50 large urban areas did not meet EU standards in 2016

Key Findings

  • Waste water treatment at 50 of Ireland’s 185 large towns and cities fail to comply with standards set to prevent pollution and protect public health.
  • Sewage from the equivalent of 120,000 people across 44 areas still enters the environment untreated each day. Plans to install treatment at some of these areas is delayed by up to three years and most will not be completed until 2021.
  • Four bathing water areas were deemed unsafe for swimming due to health risks caused by sewage.
EPA Report Wastewater Treatment 2017

     A total of 43 areas were found discharging untreated waste water

Commenting on the report Mr Gerard O’Leary, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said, “Wastewater from over half our population failed to meet environmental standards. For many years Ireland failed to address the deficiencies in wastewater treatment. Substantial and sustained investment is now required to protect our valuable waterways and protect public health.”

Environmental priorities

Waste water is one of the principal threats to water quality in Ireland and the has EPA identified the following as the priority areas where resources need to be targeted to bring environmental improvements.

  • 50 large towns and cities where waste water treatment failed to meet EU standards. This includes Dublin, which needs a major upgrade of Ringsend treatment plant.
  • 44 areas discharging untreated sewage. Counties Cork and Donegal account for nearly half of these areas. Five areas currently discharging untreated waste water are expected to be connected to treatment plants by the end of 2017. These areas are Youghal, Belmullet, Rush, Bundoran and Killybegs.
  • 59 areas where waste water is the sole threat to rivers, lakes and coastal waters that are at risk of not achieving good status. Almost one quarter of these are in Counties Donegal and Galway.
  • 4 areas where waste water contributed to poor quality bathing water. The affected beaches include Merrion Strand and Loughshinny Beach.
  • 12 areas where improvements are needed to protect critically endangered freshwater pearl mussels in rivers such as the Blackwater and the Nore.
  • 3 areas where disinfection of waste water is required to safeguard shellfish habitats.

Read the full report here

EPA Report Wastewater Treatment 2017 Doldrum Bay

Doldrum Bay, Howth One of 50 locations where untreated sewage enters the sea (Credit Patrick Jackson)

Listen to the Making Waves podcast about pollution at Doldrum bay and the efforts of locals to gain awareness for the long-standing problem. 

About the Author

Daniel Farrell
Interested in all things on the Irish coast and sharing the best of it. // Email: Daniel@coastmonkey.ie // Follow on Twitter: @DanielsSeaViews