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 2019' 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

  • 19 large towns and cities where waste water treatment did not meet mandatory European Union standards set to protect the environment.
  • 35 towns and villages where untreated waste water (raw sewage) is released into the environment every day.
  • 48 areas where waste water is the main significant threat to inland and coastal waters at risk of pollution.
  • 3 beaches where waste water was one of the contributing factors to poor quality bathing waters.
  • 13 towns and villages where waste water discharges must improve to protect endangered freshwater pearl mussels.
  • 7 large urban areas where waste water collection systems (sewers) must be upgraded to meet European Union requirements.

The report also highlights the need for Irish Water to complete overdue assessments of the impacts of waste water discharges on 26 of Ireland’s designated shellfish waters.

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


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

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

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