allocations totalling over €3.56 million made for 26 estates across 10 counties
almost 950 households
The programme is focused on housing estates which are not taken-in-charge by local authorities and do not have their water services connected to the public water services network but rely instead on infrastructure, often temporary in nature, which was provided by developers.
Much of this infrastructure, generally consisting of small standalone wastewater treatment “package” plants were put in place in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Following consideration by an Expert Panel, the Minister approved funding allocations amounting to just under €3.36 million to 10 local authorities to resolve 26 housing estates providing water services to almost 950 homes.
The focus of this first multi annual programme is on estates in towns and villages where the resolution is to connect their water services to the public networks.
The programme will also support a number of pilot projects where connection is not feasible in the immediate future.
These pilot projects, together with a major study to be under taken by Irish Water, will inform future policy on resolving sub-standard developer provided infrastructure in such areas.
On the 11th January 2022 the Environmental Protection Agency prosecuted Irish Water (Freshford) at Kilkenny District Court.
Irish Water pleaded guilty to breaching a condition of its Waste Water Discharge Licence – D0526-01 by:
Failing to comply with Condition 3.2, in that there was a discharge of sewage from the Freshford Pumping Station storm water overflow into the River Nuenna, being a discharge from the waste water works which was not permitted under and was not in accordance with said licence, within the period commencing on the 12th day of April 2020 and ending on the 14th day of April 2020 (both dates inclusive).
Judge Carthy convicted Irish Water and imposed a fine of €2000. Agency costs were also awarded.
The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD) aims to protect the environment from the adverse impacts of discharges of urban waste water from population centres.
This indicator tracks the level of compliance with the UWWTD in urban waste water collection systems and treatment plants.
The EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (91/271/EEC) has requirements for sewerage systems (or waste water collection systems) to be provided and sets deadlines for the provision of sewage treatment. The main requirements of the UWWTD are as follows:
Scheduled provision of waste water collecting systems and treatment plants based on the size of the agglomeration and the type of water body to which the waste water is discharged (freshwater, estuarine or coastal, sensitive or non-sensitive).
Monitoring by water services authorities (including frequency of monitoring) of discharges from waste water treatment plants.
In Ireland the Urban Waste Water Treatment Regulations, 2001 (S.I. No. 254 of 2001), as amended, give effect to the UWWTD. The UWWTD also sets out criteria for identification of sensitive areas, such as freshwater bodies, estuaries and coastal waters which have received, or at risk of receiving, high concentrations of nutrients from waste water if action is not taken. Fifty-one water bodies are now designated as sensitive in Ireland.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the environmental regulator responsible for the authorisation and enforcement of waste water discharges from water services authority waste water works. The purpose of the authorisation system is to prevent and reduce pollution by waste water discharges. All waste water discharge authorisations transferred from the local authorities to Irish Water on 1st January 2014 and Irish Water is now responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements of the authorisations.
Responsibility for effluent sampling, analyses and reporting the results to the EPA was transferred to Irish Water on 1st January 2014. The EPA assesses the results reported on an annual basis against the quality standards and sampling frequencies specified in the Directive, and reports on the findings.
In 2020, 12 of 174 large urban areas failed to meet the European standards set out in the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive. While the number of large urban areas which failed to meet EU standards has fallen in the last number of years (see image E.1.v._1) it is important to note that the waste water collected in these 12 sites account for 54% of all waste water collected in Ireland’s public sewers. To address the deficiencies in meeting EU standards, a group of priority areas are identified each year in which improvements need to be made. One hundred and thirteen ‘priority areas’ were identified in 2020 and they ranged in size from Ireland’s largest treatment plant (Ringsend, Co. Dublin) to smaller villages where waste water is impacting the local environment.
More information on wastewater treatment in Ireland can be found here:
People with COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 infection can shed the virus in their stool, which can then be detected in wastewater, making environmental surveillance of wastewater a feasible means to monitor the circulation of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, in the population.
The National SARS-CoV-2 Wastewater Surveillance Programme (NWSP) has been established through a partnership with Irish Water, the National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL), University College Dublin (UCD), the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) and Health Intelligence Unit (HIU).
Samples from 68 wastewater catchment areas across Ireland are taken on a weekly basis and analysed for the presence of SARS-CoV-2.
The wastewater catchment area of Ringsend in Dublin is sampled twice a week given the size of the population it captures.
These 68 wastewater catchment areas (see Figure 2) cover 80% of the population connected to public wastewater treatment facilities.
This is wastewater that is not discharged into the public wastewater system. Instead, it is collected and transported by tanker to a suitable wastewater treatment plant. There it will be treated before reentering the environment.
Tankered Wastewater can only be accepted at a wastewater treatment plant if there is sufficient capacity and infrastructure in place.
Irish Water also need to ensure there is no negative impact posed by the wastewater on both the wastewater treatment process and the receiving environment.
The types of wastewater may include:
Commercial / industrial wastewater
Municipal wastewater from private sources
Tankered Wastewater Agreements
A producer or haulier of tankered wastewater needs authorisation to import that waste into an Irish Water wastewater treatment plant.
This is granted through a Tankered Wastewater Agreement. This applies to:
Waste collection permit holders – for imports of septic tank sludge from domestic households
Producers of wastewater – for all other types of tankered waste
This report provides an overview of urban waste water treatment in Ireland during 2020. It highlights the key issues that Irish Water must address, as a priority, to protect our environment from the harmful effects of waste water discharges.
Areas that failed EU treatment standards in 2020
Areas discharging raw sewage
Areas prioritised to protect surface waters
Areas prioritised to protect freshwater pearl mussels
This is a point dataset of the waste water treatment plants in agglomerations (towns/cities) with a population equivalent of over 500 during 2006, 2007 and 2008, and were reported on and assessed for compliance under The Urban Waste Water Treatment Regulations, 2001 (S.I. No. 254 of 2001) and 2004 (S.I. 440 of 2004).
Thanks to extensive research by our Galway City Association, An Taisce has submitted a detailed report to the EPA on the ongoing wastewater treatment issues in Galway City.
The 250 page report is based on analysis of multiple incidences of untreated wastewater being discharged into the River Corrib and the Galway Bay SAC in recent years. It identifies the root cause of regular discharges of untreated wastewater into the River Corrib at the Spanish Arch/ Claddagh Basin, the regular contamination of Claddagh Beach/ Grattan Beach and why Ballyloughane Beach has failed to secure Blue Flag status.
The report finds that there has been significant under-reporting of discharges of untreated wastewater. It also finds that claims made (that the license issued by the Environmental Protection Agency allows for these numerous discharges) are untrue.