IRISH WATER has been urged to put in place a definitive time-frame for key upgrade works to waste water treatment plants along waterways in North and Mid-Cork populated by the Freshwater Pearl Mussel.
The issue has been raised by local Cork county councillor John Paul O’Shea, who has written to Irish Water seeking full details of their programme of works for dealing with the protected species in Cork waterways.
His call has come following the release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ‘Urban Waste Water Treatment in 2020’ report, which highlighted 12 towns and villages in Cork, Kerry and Laois, nine of which are located in North and Mid-Cork Cork, where it said waste water treatment “must improve” to help protect the freshwater pearl mussel.
The areas in North & Mid-Cork specifically mention in the EPA report were Ballydesmond, Boherbue, Castletownroche, Cecilstown, Inchigeelagh, Kanturk, Killkill, Lombardstown and Mallow.
While the report said the number of areas was down from 13 following the completion of a new treatment plant in Millstreet, it also pointed out that while works at Castletownroche had been completed an inspection of the treatment plant in 2020 found it “still does not meet the required standards”.
The report said that Irish Water had failed to provide a “clear time-frame” to complete all the necessary works at five of the remaining ‘priority’ areas.
While the report did not name the five areas in question, it did say that it was now likely that the threat to the pearl mussel in them “will not be resolved until after 2024”.
Cllr O’Shea said that while there were plans in the pipeline to for works to plants at Boherbue, Inchigeelagh and Mallow, Irish Water has yet to provide any clarity on when works might be undertaken on the plants serving the other North and Mid-Cork areas.
In his letter to Irish Water Cllr O’Shea requested the company provide details of the proposals for works to the plants at Boherbue, Inchigeelagh and Mallow.
He further requested that the Irish Water clarify the plans and clear time-frames for works to plants at Ballydesmond, Castletownroche, Cecilstown, Kanturk & Lombardstown.
“The EPA has made it very clear in their report that action must be taken as a priority to address the Freshwater Pearl Mussel issue in North and Mid Cork. This is not just about protecting the species. As we have already seen this issue also had ramifications for residential and commercial developments along the River Blackwater for example,” said Cllr O’Shea.
“Irish Water must now provide a clear and definitive time-line on when works will be undertaken to the waste water plants in Cork,” he added.