New water plants to end practice of dumping raw sewage into Mayo bay

River Moy and Killala benefit while similar plants underway for Co Wexford villages

 Water flowing at the Liffey Works Water Treatment Plant at Ballymore Eustace. File photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Water flowing at the Liffey Works Water Treatment Plant at Ballymore Eustace. File photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times


New waste-water treatment plants for Killala, Foxford and Charlestown have been opened in Co Mayo, ending the practice of dumping raw sewage from the towns into the Moy and Killala Bay.

The opening of the plants occurred as Irish Water turned the sod on a similar plant for Arthurstown, Duncannon and Ballyhack in Co Wexford, which will end the dumping of untreated sewage from those villages.

In a third development in recent days Irish Water also announced the start of construction on a new, covered, drinking-water treatment plant at Saggart in south County Dublin.

In Co Mayo Minister of State with responsibility for Planning Peter Burke officially opened the three treatment plants following a €19 million investment.

Mr Burke commended Irish water for completing the scheme, which he said “will bring huge benefits to the local communities in terms of protection of the environment; improved water quality for angling, water sports and marine life.”

In Co Wexford a sod-turning event was held to mark the start of works to end discharge of raw sewage by building a treatment plant for Arthurstown, Duncannon and Ballyhack.

Cathaoirleach of Wexford County Council, Barbara Anne Murphy said Wexford prided itself “on our expansive, well-maintained beaches and coastline” and the removal of untreated wastewater “will also hasten the return of our Blue Flag Beach status to Duncannon”.

The drinking-water facility at Saggart will provide a covered reservoir of 100 million litres , the equivalent of 40 Olympic-sized swimming pools supplied from Ballymore Eustace Water treatment plant, Ireland’s largest water-treatment plant.

Niall Gleeson, Irish Water’s managing director who officially co-opened the Mayo plants said “the size and scale of the challenge of raw sewage discharging into our water ways” was well documented.

“Since 2014, Irish Water has built new wastewater infrastructure for 16 towns and villages across the country, ending the discharge of raw sewage into our rivers, lakes and seas; the equivalent of 100,000 people’s worth, every day. Half of the raw sewage entering waterways in Ireland has now been eliminated and we are on track to fully removing the majority of raw sewage discharges by 2025.

“The new sewerage schemes that we are celebrating today will ensure that wastewater is adequately treated and meets appropriate standards before being safely discharged into the environment.”

In 2018 Irish Water completed a €9 million waste-water treatment plant and sewerage infrastructure project in Belmullet with a capacity to treat waste water from a population of up to 2,500 people, which ended the discharge of untreated sewage at that location.

Irish Water is also progressing plans for a new waste-water treatment plant in Newport to address the last remaining raw sewage being discharged in the county.

Significant capital investment is required over a sustained period of several decades to address the poor condition of Ireland’s water and waste-water infrastructure.

Works have been prioritised to address the most critical issues in line with commitments outlined in the Government’s Water Services Policy Statement and Irish Water’s Strategic Funding Plan.

Irish Water has invested €3.8 billion in water and waste-water infrastructure and plans to invest a further €5.2 billion from 2020 to 2024 in drinking water and waste-water quality and capacity and new infrastructure.