Irish Water has just revealed details of its €22.8 million investment in waste water infrastructure in the vicinity of Front Strand Beach in Youghal.
The beach was one of seven beaches across the country that was rated as ‘poor’ in the report. Works on the sewerage network in the area are already 90% complete. Construction of a new Waste Water Treatment Plant is due to begin once all statutory processes are completed. The construction programme is planned to take an ambitious 24 months bringing beneficial use of the Plant on line as quickly as possible.
The report on water quality monitored during the 2014 Bathing Water Season, reflects the many issues which can contaminate beach areas, including direct sewage discharge, diluted sewage discharge from overflows in wet weather as well as contaminated agricultural and other catchment runoff.
“The EPA Report highlights the need for a national water utility that can strategically approach the obvious deficits in our wastewater treatment infrastructure”, said Jerry Grant Head of Asset Management at Irish Water.
‘’Irish Water will raise funding and make investment where it is needed most to deal with this problem thereby protecting the environment and allowing for growth. It is not acceptable in a modern economy that so many of our towns are discharging raw sewage directly into the environment and that so many of our waste water treatment plants fail to regularly operate to environmental standards”, Jerry Grant said.
“We are in the process of billing our 1.5 million customers for the first time for water supply and wastewater services,” Jerry Grant explained. “Customer revenue will be invested to improve wastewater treatment capacity and effluent discharge standards across the entire network but in particular where the complete lack of treatment is impacting the local environment and the local economy.” “However, we need to invest billions into our water infrastructure and this can not be raised from customers alone”, he said. “The decades of underinvestment that led to the current situation have proven that the Government alone could not fund the scale of improvements now needed.
The utility model, under which Irish Water has been set up and will operate, allows us to borrow money from capital markets and invest it in essential infrastructure improvements giving us the best chance of ensuring that we can protect our environment and provide for sustainable long term economic growth”, Jerry Grant said.
The other bathing waters which have been classified as ‘Poor’ in the EPA’s bathing water report are South Beach, Rush, Co. Dublin, Ballyloughane Beach, Galway City, Clifden Beach, Co. Galway, Ardmore Beach, Waterford, Lilliput, Lough Ennel, Co. Westmeath and Duncannon, Co. Wexford. Irish Water projects are already underway to bring these sites up to the required standards as soon as possible.
Commenting, Jerry Grant, Irish Water said “Notwithstanding the information provided in the EPA report and the firm commitment of Irish Water to upgrade & operate our waste water treatment plants so that they are contributing to bringing water quality at all bathing beaches to the required standards, it is worth acknowledging that Irish bathing waters continue to be among the best in northern Europe. Maintaining these high water quality standards is dependent on the successful operation of wastewater treatment into plants and networks right around our coast and ensuring the long term capacity of these plants is secured the future”.