*Photograph: John Mangan
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have released their Urban Wastewater Treatment report for 2019, citing five Clare towns that continued to release raw sewage into the environment by the end of the year.
This report identifies the 113 priority areas where improvements are needed to prevent water pollution, eliminate discharges of raw sewage, meet EU treatment standards and protect bathing waters and freshwater pearl mussels.
The European Union’s Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive sets requirements for treating waste water from these large urban areas, with the objective of protecting the environment from the adverse effects of waste water discharges.
Untreated wastewater from the equivalent of 78,0005 people in 35 towns and villages is still released into the environment every day.
Ballyvaughan, Clarecastle, Kilkee, Kilrush and Liscannor were all identified within the category of releasing untreated wastewater. All five urban areas have listed 2022 as the marker for when treatment will take place. This section covers all areas, including the smaller towns and villages, where wastewater is collected in public sewers and discharged into rivers, estuaries or the sea without treatment.
Ennis South, Lahinch and Shannon were also found to have failed EU legally binding treatment standards, whilst a stream in Kilmihil was found by the EPA to have waste water discharges as the main significant pressure on a water body at risk of pollution.
The EPA warns that “delays and uncertainty in Irish Water’s delivery of critical improvement to infrastructure are prolonging risks to the environment and public health.” Further inspection found that almost half of all improvement works required by EPA licences are overdue, with many of these more than four years late.
The study is pushing for several resolutons, the first, a call on instant action from Irish Water, whereby the underlying causes for the delays in upgrading deficient treatment systems will be remedied.
In addition, that target resources to resolve environmental issues at the 113 priority areas will be met and make sure each of these has an action programme and timeframe to improve treatment.
Finally, Irish Water will accelerate the pace at which the overdue impact assessments on shellfish waters are carried out and use the findings to plan and implement improvement works.