Irish Water intends to upgrade its Ballina treatment plant to a ‘satellite dewatering centre’ but insists there are no plans for a sludge hub centre in Belleek.
Representatives from the utility firm met with a number of local representatives last week to outline its plans for the existing sewerage plant in Belleek, explaining that the Ballina centre already accepts liquid sludge from neighbouring towns and will continue to do so but “on a larger scale”.
“Our plans provide for treating the existing s
ludge generated at Ballina, treating sludge that is currently taken in from neighbouring towns and villages, treating septic tanks, which currently go into Ballina and also, in the future – and we’re talking to the year 2030 – additional villages in Mayo,” said Irish Water’s Claire Lyons.
The Ballina facility is already dewatering sludge from “four or five” nearby towns and Irish Water acknowledges locals may have concerns but “the percentage in terms of the increase is very modest”.
The more modern approach to dewatering the sludge will reduce the potential for odours, explained infrastructure programme manager David McLoone.
“Liquid sludge is currently being transported to the plant in trucks with enclosed tanks and delivered to the inlet works. The proposed upgrade will include a dedicated connection for these trucks to a reception facility with additional odour control measures to further mitigate against any odours.”
An application for the upgrade works is due to be submitted to Mayo Co Council this year.
“All of the proposed upgrades will be located entirely within the confines of the existing wastewater treatment plant, which will minimise any impacts to businesses or residents during construction.
“It’s mainly what we would refer to as mechanical upgrades. It’s equipment being brought in and fixed as opposed to large excavations,” said Ms Lyons.
Co Mayo has three main satellite watering centres and the other two are located in Westport and Castlebar but Irish Water says its priority is updating the Ballina facility.
“We’re not exceeding any of plants environmental parameters at the moment but I suppose there’s a potential risk there all the time from the sludge coming from Ballina itself and the smaller towns in the vicinity that doing it in this uncontrolled manner has the potential to have an environmental impact,” said Ms Lyons
“Castlebar has good infrastructure at the moment and would be less of a priority. Westport would come on the programme at a later time,” added Mr McLoone.