Works carried out by Irish Water to secure the upgrade of sewage infrastructure in Balbriggan have been slated as “too little, too late” by a Green Party councillor.
Cllr Karen Power was speaking at a Local Area Committee meeting, where she called for the council to engage with Irish Water “to secure the upgrade of sewage infrastructure in Balbriggan to prevent the use of the Bracken River as an "overflow."”
Speaking at the committee meeting, Cllr Power said her motion related to sewage overflow into the Bracken River, and the effect this was having on Balbriggan bathing water quality.
Welcoming a report issued by the council which detailed scheduled works and engagement with Irish Water, Cllr Power said this was “too little, too late.”
She pointed out the residents of Balbriggan have lost “another summer” to swimming prohibitions, and that it “shouldn’t have taken this long for people to sit up and notice.”
Her concern, she said, was that there were plans to open the river as part of Our Balbriggan and the Our Balbriggan Investment Plan, yet sewage was still running into the water.
While she did welcome the council report, she said she would advocate for a meeting between Fingal County Council engineers, Irish Water and the sea-swimming community of Balbriggan to examine the issues relating to the “continuous swimming prohibitions”, with a view to resolving the problem “on a permanent basis.”
Also speaking at the committee meeting, Cllr Tony Murphy said this was a “very, very serious issue impacting Balbriggan.”
Cllr Murphy said he had to compliment Fingal County Council in how it managed a recent incident involving wastewater being pumped into a river from a single apartment, but it was “totally unacceptable” to have an issue such as this limit the people of Balbriggan’s access to the beach.
There had been a call from residents for a meeting with officials, Cllr Murphy said, which he confirmed would take place once they returned from leave.
A report issued by the council stated that Irish Water is progressing plans to upgrade Quay Street Pumping Station, which are scheduled to be completed in late 2023.
The report confirmed that Irish Water is also carrying out a Drainage Area Plan (DAP) for Balbriggan.
The focus of the work under the DAP programme is to: identify where, how often and the scale of problems impacting the public (such as flooding) and the environment; identify solutions to remedy the above based on whole life cost assessment.
In relation to Balbriggan, Irish Water has commenced Stage 1 of the process, which is information/data gathering.
When this work is completed, the report stated, Irish Water will have “a better understanding of possible solutions in order to help address bathing water quality issues in the area.”
The report concluded that Irish Water and Fingal County Council will “work together to assess the feasibility and remove surface water from the foul system as an immediate task in order to divert the need, where possible, of major capital upgrades.”