Urban Waste Water Treatment

The objective of waste water treatment is to collect the waste water generated within our communities, remove the polluting material, and then release the treated water safely back into the environment.  Without such treatment, the waste water we produce would pollute our waters and create a health risk.     

EPA Reports

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

The latest report 'Urban Waste Water Treatment in 2018' 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 as highlighted in this report

  • 21 large towns and cities where waste water treatment did not meet mandatory European Union standards set to prevent pollution and protect human health.
  • 36 towns and villages where untreated waste water (raw sewage) from the equivalent of 77,000 people is released into the environment every day.
  • 57 areas where waste water is the sole significant threat to rivers, estuaries, lakes and coastal waters at risk of pollution.
  • 3 beaches where waste water contributed to poor quality bathing waters.
  • 15 towns and villages where improvements in waste water treatment are needed to protect critically endangered freshwater pearl mussels or to safeguard shellfish habitats.
  • 8 large urban areas where waste water collection systems (sewers) are inadequate.


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