Uisce Éireann’s investment in Ireland’s wastewater infrastructure is benefiting communities around the country by supporting sustainable growth and development, enhancing water quality, and protecting the environment.
The latest EPA Urban Wastewater Treatment Report published today shows progress in tackling long-running issues like raw sewage discharges while underlining the need for continued investment in our essential wastewater services.
The investment made by Uisce Éireann in Louth has resulted in improved wastewater treatment in various communities, including Dundalk. Specifically, the upgrade of the sewer network at St. Helena’s has created social and economic growth opportunities and provided a reliable wastewater treatment network for future generations.
Further upgrades are also planned for Castlebellingham under the Small Towns and Villages Growth Programme. This project will progress through the current and future investment cycles, subject to approval and planning.
The Omeath Sewerage Scheme aims to improve the environment by ensuring that raw sewage is no longer discharged into the coastal waters in Carlingford Lough. This project is in addition to 28 areas around the country already benefitting today from cleaner waters and enhanced amenities due to the construction of new wastewater treatment plants where none existed previously. There are currently 11 locations under construction. This means that over 70% of all raw sewage discharges nationwide have now been eliminated, with the majority of the remainder set to end by 2025.
In addition, the upgrades to Dundalk and Drogheda Wastewater Treatment Plants are continuing to progress through the current investment cycle. Three additional projects are in progress in Cocklehill, Greenhills and Mount Avenue, which will enable social, economic growth and development.
Brian Sheehan, Uisce Éireann’s Head of Infrastructure Delivery, noted that ending raw sewage discharges and improving wastewater treatment for communities across the country are priorities for Uisce Éireann. We are making considerable strides in addressing these issues and seeing real and tangible benefits from the unprecedented investment in this essential infrastructure. Over 70% of raw sewage discharges nationwide have been eliminated, and we are on track to end the majority by 2025. Our targeted investment programme in existing wastewater plants and networks is also helping to protect the environment and enhance water quality.
“The timely delivery of this infrastructure and these services is critical in supporting sustainable social and economic development. Last year, we invested over €1bn in water and wastewater projects, and we will need to maintain this funding level in the coming years. It will also be necessary to address existing issues in our planning and approvals system so that large-scale critical infrastructure can progress within a reasonable timeframe. We will continue to work with the Government and our regulators, including the EPA and CRU, to ensure we can rise to the challenge of delivering transformative wastewater services to enable communities to thrive.”
2022 saw the highest annual investment in wastewater to date of over €450m as Uisce Éireann continues to make progress in priority areas such as locations where there is raw sewage entering the rivers, lakes and the sea, sites identified by the European Court of Justice under the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive and sites where urban wastewater is a significant pressure. As the EPA acknowledges, the building, repair and upgrading of Ireland’s wastewater treatment plants and sewer network will require a multi-billion-euro investment programme over many years. Uisce Éireann is focussed on delivering the best possible service improvements, while maximising return on investment.
Uisce Éireann is also driving sustained improvement in existing wastewater treatment standards. Last year, 91% of Ireland’s treatment plants fully complied with the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive. For those plants that are not currently achieving compliance, Uisce Éireann has a plan of action to address any deficiencies and bring them up to the appropriate standard as quickly as possible.