Date released: October 25, 2023
26th October 2023: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report Urban Waste Water Treatment in 2022, released today, shows that Uisce Éireann has made progress in stopping discharges of raw sewage over the past year, with the connection of six villages to new treatment plants in 2022. However, waste water continues to harm the quality of many of Ireland’s rivers, estuaries, lakes and coastal waters. While works to upgrade treatment plants and prevent pollution are progressing in some areas, Uisce Éireann’s delays in other areas are prolonging the risks to the environment and public health.
Launching the report, Dr Tom Ryan, EPA Director said:
“While it is encouraging to see continued progress in stopping the unacceptable practice of discharging raw sewage into our environment, waste water remains a significant pressure on Ireland’s water ways and is adversely impacting water quality. The pace at which Uisce Éireann is delivering improvements needs to accelerate to prevent pollution and protect water quality.
“Uisce Éireann must take the opportunity of its new investment plan for 2025 to 2029 to deliver waste water infrastructure that meets the needs of our society and protects and improves our environment into the future. The investment plan must prioritise resources to prevent pollution in the priority areas highlighted by the EPA.”
Thirty years after Ireland was required to bring provisions into force to comply with EU treatment standards set to protect the environment, less than half (45 per cent) of waste water is treated to these standards. This is expected to improve significantly when the upgrade of Ireland’s largest treatment plant at Ringsend in Dublin is complete.
Noel Byrne, EPA Programme Manager, said:
“It is welcome that Uisce Éireann is currently building infrastructure at large urban areas, including Ringsend and Arklow, which are designed to treat waste water to a high standard. However, poor management practices at upgraded plants, such as Skibbereen and Courtmacsherry, caused inadequately treated sewage to discharge into the environment. This is not acceptable as these plants have sufficient treatment capacity. Uisce Éireann must implement effective maintenance programmes for existing infrastructure and improve its operation and management of treatment plants to prevent such failures in future.”
The report is now available on the EPA website.
Further information: Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours) or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editor
It will take a multi-billion euro investment, and at least two decades, to bring all waste water treatment systems up to the standard needed to protect our environment and also provide for future needs. As all the problems cannot be fixed in the short term, Uisce Éireann must direct the resources that are available to the areas where they are needed most and will bring the greatest benefits.
The EPA identifies the following as priority areas:
You can view the list of priority areas and the environmental issues at each area on the EPA website. This also shows when and how Uisce Éireann plans to resolve the priority issues at each area.
26 towns and villages discharging raw sewage in mid-2023
15 towns and cities that failed the EU standards set to protect the environment