Poolbeg Ringsend water treatment facility was built for a capacity of 1.64 million people but it has to cope with demand that can reach 2.3 million. Photograph: Eoin O’Shaughnessy / Dublin City Shots

Sewage from nearly 80000 people flowing into Ireland's waterways

The Environmental Protection Agency has warned that the level of raw sewage that is pumped into Ireland’s waterways every day is “unacceptable.”

The agency said untreated sewage from 36 towns and villages – the equivalent of 77,000 people – is released into the environment every day.

Half of the raw sewage comes from Arklow, Cobh and Kilmore Quay.

It found that the wastewater treatment facilities at 21 of Ireland’s large towns and cities – including Dublin and Cork – do not meet EU standards.

The EPA highlights problem areas including:

Public health

Dr Tom Ryan, Director of the EPAs Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE) said there have been some improvements in recent years.

He warned however that the pace at which Irish Water is upgrading the country’s wastewater treatment infrastructure is too slow.

“Inadequately treated waste water can pollute our environment and is a risk to people’s health,” he said.

“We are seeing repeated delays in providing treatment for many areas and it is not acceptable that 13 towns and villages will still have no waste water treatment by the end of 2021.

“Irish Water must speed up its delivery of key infrastructure.”


Irish Water Head of Asset Management Seán Laffey, said the utility is making good progress on wastewater upgrades.

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Read also Raw sewage from 36 areas released into Irish waters daily (Irish Times)