Date released: November 02, 2021
The EPA report on Urban Waste Water Treatment in 2020, released today, shows that the pace at which essential improvements in waste water treatment are being delivered is too slow. Irish Water is making progress in resolving environmental issues and the number of priority areas has reduced from 148 to 97 over the past four years. However, there is still a long way to go to bring all deficient treatment systems up to standard.
There have been further delays in providing treatment for many of the 34 towns and villages discharging raw sewage, and as a result over one third of these areas will not receive treatment until after 2024.
Investment in waste water infrastructure is bringing environmental benefits to some areas. The number of large towns and cities failing to meet EU treatment standards is down from 28 in 2017 to 12 in 2020. However, the final deadline for all large urban areas to meet these treatment standards was 2005.
Commenting on the report, Dr Tom Ryan, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said:
“It is unacceptable that 15 years after the final deadline to comply, half of Ireland’s urban waste water is still not treated to the basic EU standards. There are repeated delays in providing proper treatment at many areas, and this continues to put our environment and people’s health at risk. It is clear that Ireland will still need substantial investment over many years to bring our public waste water treatment plants and public sewers up to standard. Irish Water must deliver the essential infrastructure in as timely a manner as possible and resolve the underlying causes for the delays in upgrading treatment systems.”
The EPA report identifies the priority areas where improvements are most urgently needed and will deliver the greatest environmental benefits.
Noel Byrne, EPA Programme Manager said:
“While we are seeing progress at some areas, it is very concerning that Irish Water still has no clear action plans setting out when and how it will improve treatment at many of the priority areas where waste water is threatening the quality of our rivers and coastal waters. It is essential that Irish Water improves treatment to resolve the environmental issues highlighted by the EPA and provides clear, site specific action plans and time frames to carry out this work.”
The report contains key actions recommended for Irish Water as follows:
The report is now available on the EPA Website
Further information: Emily Williamson / Aileen Moon , EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours) or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editor
While there has been progress recently, waste water treatment at many areas is still not as good as it needs to be. Based on current investment levels and rates of delivery of waste water infrastructure it will take two decades to fix all the problems. Priority must be given to areas where improvements are most needed and will bring the greatest benefits. The EPA identifies the following as the priority areas:
The full list of priority urban areas and the environmental issue at each area is available on the EPA website. This also shows when and how Irish Water plans to resolve the priority issue at each area.