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29 Nov 2021

New report reveals 'unacceptable' levels of raw sewage released into environment

New report reveals 'unacceptable' levels of raw sewage released into environment

The report revealed it will take up to 20 years to fix all of the problems in wastewater treatment.

A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has revealed more than 30 towns and villages in Ireland released raw sewage into the environment everyday in 2020 because they did not have treatment plants.

The EPA has said that while Irish Water is making progress, there is "still a long way to go" as the report revealed it will take up to 20 years to fix all of the problems in wastewater treatment, based on current investment levels.

The director of the EPA's Office of Environmental Enforcement, Dr Tom Ryan, said there are repeated delays in providing proper treatment in many areas and this continues to put the environment and people's health at risk.

The report on Urban Waste Water Treatment shows that in 2020, 12 large towns and cities did not meet wastewater treatment standards that have been set to treat the environment along with Dublin, which does not meet EU standards, as it is served by an overloaded plant at Ringsend that treats 43% of Ireland's urban wastewater.

"It is clear that Ireland will still need substantial investment over many years to bring our public wastewater treatment plants and public sewers up to standard.

"Irish Water must deliver the essential infrastructure in as timely a manner as possible and resolve the underlying causes for the delays in upgrading treatment systems," Dr Ryan added.

Untreated wastewater has a detrimental impact on wildlife, including pearl mussel populations, which are declining globally due to deteriorating river quality.

Irish Water said new wastewater treatment plants have been built in 17 locations where raw sewage had been discharged into the sea for decades with an additional 14 locations set to be constructed by the end of the year along with 8 more in 2022.

Irish Water added that an estimated €650m in investment is committed to tackling this problem and over 95% of raw sewage discharges are on track to be removed by the end of 2025.

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