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Thursday 8 December 2016

Here are the 43 areas of concern where raw sewage is pouring into water on Ireland's coastline

* Spending on waste water treatment down since Irish Water
* 29 cities and towns failing to meet EU standards
* Full list below

Published 24/11/2016 | 02:30

'Increased investment needed to protect coastal waters'

Coastal town favourites are among the 43 areas which is seeing raw sewage pour into the water on a daily basis.

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Both Cork and Donegal received 11 black marks, while Clare, Galway and Wexford were also noted as areas of concern.

Click to view full size graphic
Click to view full size graphic

Dublin, Wicklow and Clare each had two areas of concern, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

They also reported spending on waste water treatment plants to have dropped by 40pc since the creation of Irish Water and delivery of new plants has been delayed by an average of two years.

Some 29 large cities and towns, including Cork, Dublin and Enniscorthy, are failing to meet mandatory EU standards, and raw sewage is still being discharged without any treatment into 43 areas, the agency's urban waste water treatment report warns.

Figures from the EPA show between 2001 and 2011, there was an average spend of €270m a year on waste water treatment. This has dropped to €166m in the last two years.

The report also finds that while new treatment plants have been built in a number of areas, progress is too slow. It also said timelines provided by Irish Water to improve and upgrade treatment plants were "slipping".

"The pace of resolving waste water treatment needs to improve," said director of the EPA's Office of Environmental Enforcement, Gerard O'Leary.

"It is not acceptable that the timeframe to eliminate the discharge of raw sewage from over 20 areas has slipped by almost two years. We need to see increased capital investment and improved efficiencies in the delivery of the outstanding infrastructure necessary to protect our rivers, lakes and coastal waters and for a more sustainable quality of life."

The report says that 29 large towns and cities are failing to meet mandatory European Union standards, despite the EU's final deadline to improve quality passing in 2005.

It also says that waste water discharges are linked to poor water quality at six popular beaches including Merrion Strand, Youghal Front Strand and Duncannon, and waste water from 45 areas was linked with river pollution, down from 49 in 2013.

Worryingly, it says that 20pc of "long-term" incidents are linked to operational and maintenance issues. Some 29 sites have no operational programmes in place.

In a statement, Irish Water disputed the EPA's figures on under-spending, saying that between 2011 and 2013, there was a 50pc drop in investment in waste water infrastructure to €136m. When it took control of the network, spending increased to €166m for 2014 and 2015 and it planned to further ramp-up investment to €326m a year between 2016 and 2021.

It added it had prioritised investment in drinking water supplies, but by 2021 all discharges to rivers and seas would be treated to prevent pollution.

The utility had a "plan" to address all of the issues and concerns raised by the EPA, but addressing the challenges would take "substantial investment and considerable time".

The 43 areas of concern where raw sewage is pouring into water are:

Dublin

Rush

Howth

Wicklow

Arklow

Avoca

Wexford

Kilmore Quay

Duncannon

Arthurstown

Ballyhack

Cork

Youghal

Cobh

Ballycotton

Whitegate/Agada

Ringaskiddy/Crosshaven/Carrigaline

Passage/Monkstown

Ringaskiddy Village

Timoleague

Castletownshend

Castletownbere

Inchigeelagh

Clare

Kilrush

Kilkee

Castlecastle

Liscannor

Ballyvaughan

Galway

Kinvara

Spiddal

Carraroe

Roundstone

Ahascragh

Mayo

Belmullet

Killala

Donegal

Bundoran

Killybegs

Kilcar

Burtonport

Falcarragh

Kerrykeel

Rathmullan

Ramelton

Moville

St Johnston

Coolatee Housing Scheme

Irish Independent

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