The European Commission is taking Ireland to the EU Court of Justice for its failure to ensure that waste water at treatment facilities in 38 areas across the country is adequately collected and treated.
Under EU law Member States are required to ensure that towns and cities properly collect and treat their urban waste water. Untreated waste water can be contaminated with harmful bacteria and viruses, presenting a risk to human health and polluting freshwater and marine environments.
The 38 treatment facilities with inadequate wastewater infrastructure around the country: Arklow, Athlone, Ballybofey/Stranorlar, Ballincollig New, Castlecomer, Cavan, Clifden, Clonakily, Cobh, Cork City, Dundalk, Enfield, Enniscorthy, Fermoy, Gaoth Dobhair, Killarney, Killybegs, Longford, Mallow, Midleton, Monksland, Navan, Nenagh, Oberstown, Pasage/Monktown, Portarlington, Rathcormac, Ringaskiddy, Ringsend, Roscommon Town, Roscrea, Shannon Town, Thurles, Tralee, Tubbercurry, Youghal and Waterford City.
The referral decision also raises additional concerns about the failure to ensure that a correct operating licence has been issued for the treatment plants serving the areas of Arklow and Castlebridge.
Member States had until the end of 2005 to ensure appropriate treatment of waste water. The Commission initiated the infringement against Ireland in September 2013, followed by warnings in September 2015 and September 2016.
According to a recent Commission report on the implementation of EU environmental policy and law in Member States, one of the main challenges Ireland faces is maintaining the important investments required for water services, given the urgent need to invest in water infrastructure.