Urban Waste Water

Urban waste water is domestic waste water (from residential settlements) or a mixture of domestic waste water with industrial waste water (from premises used for trade or industry) and/or run-off rain water.

The EPA is the environmental regulator responsible for the authorisation and enforcement of urban waste water discharges, in accordance with the Waste Water Discharge (Authorisation) Regulations, 2007 as amended. Irish Water is responsible for the collection, treatment and discharge of urban waste water in compliance with the requirements of EPA waste water discharge authorisations.

The EPA publishes annual reports on the quality of effluent discharged from urban waste water treatment works throughout the country.

The latest report 'Urban Waste Water Treatment in 2018' identifies the priority areas where resources must be targeted, to protect our environment from the harmful effects of waste water, and deliver environmental improvements where they are most needed.

Priorities to be resolved

  • 21 large towns and cities where waste water treatment did not meet mandatory European Union standards set to prevent pollution and protect human health.
  • 36 towns and villages where untreated waste water (raw sewage) from the equivalent of 77,000 people is released into the environment every day.
  • 57 areas where waste water is the sole significant threat to rivers, estuaries, lakes and coastal waters at risk of pollution.
  • 3 beaches where waste water contributed to poor quality bathing waters.
  • 15 towns and villages where improvements in waste water treatment are needed to protect critically endangered freshwater pearl mussels or to safeguard shellfish habitats.
  • 8 large urban areas where waste water collection systems (sewers) are inadequate.


Ireland requires substantial and sustained investment in waste water treatment infrastructure to resolve these priorities.

Learn More

All links in this section are to further information on our desktop site for Urban Waste Water

Our licensing section contains further information on the licensing process for waste water discharge authorisation

Reports on ‌Urban Waste Water Treatment

Search for a waste water discharge application, authorisation or annual environmental report

Advice and guidance on reporting and complying with waste water discharge authorisations

View EPA Office Locations
View Desktop site