Urban Waste Water Treatment

Urban Waste Water is one of the principal pressures on water quality in Ireland and must be treated prior to being released back into the environment in order to remove contaminations that could otherwise pose a risk to the environment or public health.  Approximately 94% of Ireland's urban waste water receives secondary treatment, which is a biological process that significantly reduces the risk of pollution by organic matter.     

EPA Reports

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) produces annual reports on the quality of urban waste water discharged from our cities, towns and urban communities.    

The latest report 'Urban Waste Water Treatment in 2015' reviews the performance of over 500 urban waste water schemes, assesses compliance with the requirements of the 1991 Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive and sets out the key national proirities that need to be resolved.  

Priorities to be resolved

  • 29 of our 171 large urban areas fail to comply with the mandatory treatment standards in the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive.  This is down from 44 in 2012.
  • Raw sewage is discharged from 43 areas.
  • Urban Waste Water contributes to poor bathing water quality at 6 popular beaches.
  • 45 Urban Waste Water Schemes are linked with river pollution.
  • Discharges from 16 areas require improvements to protect endangered freshwater pearl mussels.
  • Significant upgrades to 13 collection networks are necessary to comply with EU standards.

Resolving these priorities will require sustained investment in waste water treatment infrastructure.