Urban Waste Water Discharges in Ireland, A report for the Years 2004 and 2005

Summary: This report details the quality of treatment of discharges from urban wastewater treatment plants in Ireland in 2004 and 2005.

Published: 2007

ISBN: 1-84095-214-8

Pages: 157

Filesize: 2,116KB

Price: Free to download / €20 for a printed version

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This report provides an analysis of the treatment of waste water for all agglomerations (mainly cities, towns and villages) with a population equivalent over 500 during 2004 and 2005, the quality of discharges from waste water treatment plants and commentary on trends for the period 1998 to 2005. The report is based on information supplied by local authorities on an annual basis.

The report includes a county-by-county analysis of the performance of secondary waste water treatment plants covering their compliance against the Urban Waste Water Regulations, 2001.

 The main findings of the report are:

 The overall level of treatment provided at 478 agglomerations, which collectively represent a total population equivalent (p.e.) of 5,627,456, was as follows:

  • 11% of wastewater received no treatment;
  • 5% of wastewater received preliminary treatment;
  • 2% of wastewater received primary treatment;
  • 70% of wastewater received secondary treatment; and
  • 12% of wastewater received nutrient reduction in addition to secondary treatment.

 There have been delays in providing the required treatment plants at a number of locations throughout the country. Of the 158 agglomerations requiring secondary treatment or higher by 31st December 2005, the required level of treatment was not in place at 30 of these agglomerations.

 Large agglomerations which were required to have secondary treatment by 31st December 2000 but as yet has not been provided are: Bray,  Howth/Baldoyle/Portmarnock (Partial), Balbriggan, Killybegs, Shangannagh, Sligo Town, Tramore, and Waterford City.

 The largest untreated discharge to a sensitive area is from Killybegs (Co. Donegal) with an estimated population equivalent of 400,000 p.e. Secondary waste water treatment plants are now operational in the cities of Cork, Limerick and Galway and these plants are meeting the effluent quality standards set out in the Regulations.

Compliance with discharge limits for the very large plants (i.e. >15,000 p.e.) has improved; however the majority of smaller treatment plants are not complying with these limits. The compliance rates based on monitoring results are summarised below.

Local authorities failed to take the required number of samples at 38% of waste water treatments plants with a population equivalent of 2,000 p.e. or over and where samples were taken, 43% of these were taken incorrectly.

 121,750 tonnes of dried sludge was produced nationally by wastewater treatment plants  in the period. 76% of this went to agriculture and 17% went to landfill.

75 waste water treatment plants were inspected by the EPA between 2004 and 2006. Recurring problems identified at waste water treatment plants visited during audits, which are in need of corrective action, include:

  • Inadequate collection systems for waste water (e.g. combined sewer overflows);
  • Inadequate screening of influent waste water and storm water overflows;
  • Insufficient treatment capacity;
  • Poor assimilative capacity for discharged effluent in some receiving waters; and,
  • Poor sludge management on site and incomplete sludge records.



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 In order to achieve compliance with the requirements of the Regulations and secure improvements in the quality of effluents from urban waste water treatment plants the EPA makes the following recommendations.

  1. The provision of adequate treatment at the 30 agglomerations that did not have the required level of treatment by December 31st 2005 should be progressed as a matter of urgency.
  2. Local authorities should ensure that all monitoring and analysis is carried out in accordance with the Regulations for all treatment plants including those that are managed and operated by third parties on behalf of the local authority.
  3. The frequency and volume of storm overflows within each collection system should be assessed, mapped and ranked in order of polluting potential.
  4. Where sludge is reused in Agriculture, Local authorities should ensure that the testing and management of the sludge is compliant with the requirements of the Regulations and in particular that a nutrient management plan is used. 
  5.  Local authorities should prepare an odour management plan for each treatment plant operated by or on it’s behalf. The odour management plan should be a documented procedure available at the treatment plant at all times. 
  6.  Local authorities should determine whether all trade effluent discharges are appropriately licensed and should check the compliance of existing licenses against their permitted discharge allowance. In particular local authorities should review the discharges from the growing number of food preparation outlets, which may be significant contributors of grease and fat loadings to sewer networks and municipal treatment plants.





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