Communities across Ireland continue to benefit from Irish Water’s progress in improving wastewater treatment, resulting in a cleaner environment, enhanced water quality and greater capacity to support growth and development.
The latest EPA Urban Wastewater Treatment Report for 2021 recognises the ongoing progress being made by Irish Water in upgrading Ireland’s public wastewater infrastructure while also highlighting the need for continued investment in our essential wastewater services.
Since 2014, when Irish Water assumed responsibility for public water services, 60% of raw sewage discharges by volume have been eliminated through targeted investment in new sewerage infrastructure where none existed previously, and we are on target to eliminate nearly all of the remainder by 2025.
In Mayo, investment in wastewater infrastructure in Killala, Foxford and Charlestown has led to improvements in water quality, while also supporting housing and economic development in these areas.
Irish Water has completed the new Killala Wastewater Treatment Plant ending the decades old practice of discharging raw sewage into Killala Bay.
Meanwhile, in order to construct new infrastructure to eliminate the discharge of raw sewage in Newport, Irish Water is progressing with marine modelling to inform the design solutions required.
Irish Water’s targeted programme of investment in existing wastewater infrastructure is also reaping benefits for communities around the country. The building of new treatment plants and upgrading of existing ones has led to continued improvements in the quality of receiving waters. Compliance rates with the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive remain strong at 93% of plants – up from just 81% in 2015.
As a result of this progress, the impact of urban wastewater on catchment waters has continued to reduce. In the first River Basin Management Plan, prior to the establishment of Irish Water, urban wastewater was identified as the second most dominant pressure on receiving waters; this has now reduced to the fourth and we expect that, by 2027, urban wastewater will be down to seventh, which demonstrates our commitment to improve overall water quality in Ireland’s rivers, lakes and seas. This reflects the significant progress being made by Irish Water in upgrading wastewater infrastructure and optimising operations at wastewater treatment plants.
The Killala project formed part of a €19 million investment in wastewater infrastructure in Mayo along with the completed Foxford and Charlestown Sewerage Schemes. The wastewater plants in Foxford and Charlestown were upgraded in order to provide wastewater treatment capacity for the current population and for further growth in the area.
Meanwhile, work on a detailed design to upgrade Claremorris Wastewater Treatment Plant is progressing and a planning application for the works is due to be submitted to Mayo County Council in early 2023.
Irish Water’s Asset Delivery Programme Manager Paul Fallon said the scale of delivery of this critical infrastructure is unprecedented.
“Last year we invested €367 million in Ireland’s wastewater – the highest ever in a single year – and we are on track to increase that further over the coming years as we strive to deliver best in class wastewater services and infrastructure for Ireland now and in the future.”