A report from the Environmental Protection Agency says around half of the waste discharges entering our waters don’t meet pollution and health standards.
Untreated sewage is still being pumped into our seas and waterways from 38 towns and villages around the country – none of these locations are in Waterford.
However, there are 28 treatment plants nationwide, including one in Portlaw Co Waterford, where discharges are below EU standards.
The EPA says years of under-investment in the system is one of the main causes.
Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement Dr Tom Ryan said Ireland was not addressing deficiencies in its waste water treatment infrastructure at a fast enough pace. “It’s unacceptable, 13 years after the final deadline to comply with treatment standards, there are still 28 large towns and cities discharging inadequately treated sewage that fails to meet these standards.”
He warned: “This is putting our health at risk and is having an impact on our rivers, lakes and coastal waters.”
The report singles makes a positive example of Ardmore in County Waterford. Prior to 2015 there was no treatment plant in Ardmore, and waste water entered Ardmore Bay without treatment.
This had a negative impact on the local bathing water, which was classified as poor quality in 2014. Irish Water, in partnership with Waterford County Council, completed a new treatment plant at the end of 2015.
According to the EPA report, waste water from the village is now treated to a high standard before it is released into Ardmore Bay.
It says investment in the new plant has brought significant and sustained improvement to the local water quality, and in 2017 the bathingwater was classified as excellent.