Sewage discharge into Nenagh river shut off by Uisce Éireann after EPA inspection

Anglers and other locals highlighted threat to waterway from ‘unauthorised’ wastewater treatment plant

Uisce Éireann has shut off a controversial outfall pipe discharging sewage into the Nenagh river in Co Tipperary from an unauthorised wastewater treatment plant following an inspection by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The pipe had been discharging sewage from the facility serving Ballycommon village into the waterway over the past few months, raising concerns from Nenagh Ormond Anglers that it was threatening fish populations along the river.

Earlier this year, a local landowner had water close to the discharge point independently tested, and samples were found to contain E.coli bacteria – an indicator of the presence of human faecal matter. Bacterial levels were so high they were deemed “too numerous to count”.

The EPA confirmed it visited the Ballycommon wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) outside Nenagh recently following complaints.


“This plant does not have an authorisation in place from the EPA. We inspected the plant, a pump station and the discharge point into the Nenagh river. Our inspectors took samples upstream, downstream and of the discharge – and these will be analysed by the [EPA’s] Kilkenny laboratory,” it added.

“The EPA have concerns about the operation and functioning of the plant. A report will be prepared and provided to Uisce Éireann. The EPA’s licensing team have written to Uisce Éireann about their requirement to apply for an authorisation for this plant which we were informed they took over in December 2021,” the agency said.

Uisce Éireann confirmed effluent from the plant would be transported by tanker to Nenagh treatment plant for processing until they have addressed operational issues with the Ballycommon plant.

It said that since taking over the plant, they had carried out regular maintenance works to improve its performance. “Uisce Éireann has committed to carry out further upgrades at the plant and have recently engaged with the original suppliers of the system at Ballycommon WWTP.”

The original suppliers will return over coming weeks to check the plant with a view to improving its performance, it added.

The issue has been raised repeatedly over the past number of months by Cllr Seamus Morris. The waterway is classified as “a rich lowland river” and flows into nearby Lough Derg, north of Dromineer – a popular location for swimming and other water-based activities. Efforts to preserve wild salmon and brown trout species, including improving spawning areas, were being undone by pollution arising from a growing number of houses in the area, according to the anglers.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times