Counties Cork, Donegal and Galway fail to provide adequate sewage treatment facilities to meet EU standards

Date released: Nov 24 2015, 10:15 AM

 

  • 82% (143 out of 174) of large urban areas achieve the mandatory EU quality standards – this figure is up 8% in two years.
  • Untreated sewage is discharged at 45 urban areas – over half of these are in three counties (Cork, Donegal and Galway) 

The EPA Urban Waste Water Treatment Report for 2014, released today, highlights the need for investment in waste water infrastructure to eliminate the discharge of raw sewage from urban areas and to meet European Union standards intended to prevent the adverse environmental and public health effects associated with sewage.

Commenting on the report Mr Gerard O’Leary, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said,

“Sewage discharges continue to impact on our environment with counties Cork, Donegal and Galway the worst affected areas.  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."

Some key findings of the report on infrastructure and effluent quality:

  • 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 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.

Some 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 waste water plants were attributed to issues surrounding operation and maintenance.

And some key findings in relation to the receiving environment:

  • Waste water 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 waste water discharges. This is down from six in 2013.

Mr David Flynn, Programme Manager of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement commented that,

“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.”

Concluding Mr Flynn said that,

“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.

The full press release is available on our desktop site.

ENDS


Further information: Niamh Hatchell/ Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours) or media@epa.ie

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