independent

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Sewage flood nightmare

Bill Browne

Published 24/10/2013 | 05:26

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A SEVERE flood in Macroom could have the potential to send thousands of gallons of waste water into the River Lee, polluting the supply of drinking water to Cork City.

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A SEVERE flood in Macroom could have the potential to send thousands of gallons of waste water into the River Lee, polluting the supply of drinking water to Cork City.

That was the nightmare scenario laid out by Macroom town councillor Martin Coughlan who said the waste water treatment plant in Macroom had now reached full capacity.

Speaking at the town council's October monthly meeting, Cllr Coughlan (Lab) raised the issue of "foul odour smells" on Cork Street, Coleman's Park and near the waster water treatment plant.

"I know the summer just gone by was an exceptional one, but there were people in Cork Street, Coleman's Park and Castlecourt who had no option but to close their doors and windows on hot summer nights because of the smell," said Cllr Coughlan.

"Our waste water treatment plant is at full capacity, there is no doubt about it," he added.

Cllr Coughlan assured the meeting the issue of upgrading the plant was on the OPW's radar, having been raised at a recent Southern Area committee.

He said €500,000 had been set aside on the 2013-2015 programme of works for upgrading the Macroom sewage system, but that funding had subsequently been withdrawn.

"The next tranche of money will come on their 2015-2017 programme so we have to keep the pressure on to make sure this does not fall off the minister's desk," he said.

Cllr Coughlan said the council should be writing to the minister's office pointing out the plant had reached capacity and was overflowing.

"If we are flooded in Macroom everything in that waste treatment plant will be washed down the River Sullane, into the River Lee and on to Inniscarra. That's fact," he said, pointing out the water supply for Cork City comes directly from the River Lee.

"I've lived near the plant for 30 years and this is the first time there has ever been foul odours emerging from it. Also, I have monitored the outflow going into the river this year and it did not look as clean as it had in previous years," said Cllr Coughlan.

He asked town manager Sharon Corcoran to impress the serious nature of the problem to senior council officials.

Ms Corcoran, who is also the director of environmental services with the county council, said her department was aware of the issue.

However, she did point out that from next January the issue would fall under the remit of Irish Water.

Cllr Connie Foley (Ind) asked if it was an environmental hazard, and if so could it be taken to EU level in order to force immediate action on the issue. "Maybe Europe could put some pressure on to get this resolved," he said.

Corkman

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