independent

Sunday 16 December 2018

Outrage as raw sewage entering four Wexford coastal beauty areas

David Looby

People living in four County Wexford villages are living beside polluted rivers because of inadequate investment in sewerage facilities.

Residents of Ballyhack, Kilmore Quay, Arthurstown and Duncannon have to endure raw sewage being flushed out to sea near their homes.

Noel Byrne of the EPA's Enforcement section said: 'The situation is in need of urgent attention. Literally when you flush the toilet in Kilmore Quay it's going out into the environment. There is actually no treatment being applied to the sewage so within five minutes 3,000 litres of sewage is going out into Kilmore Quay so it is quite significant.'

Chairperson of Hook Tourism Philip Wallace said Duncannon's water quality results have been excellent over the past four years. 'We should have had a blue flag this year so there is a good possibility we'll have our blue flag back next year. A planning application is due to go in for a treatment plant at Mersheen over the coming months.'

Inadequate waste water treatment facilities has caused villages across the county to grind to a standstill and stagnate.

Despite a 'legacy of under-investment' and the State facing legal action from the European Commission for failing to meet mandatory standards, the EPA says improvements are not happening at a fast enough pace. 'It is unacceptable that, 13 years after the final deadline to comply with treatment standards, there are still large towns and cities discharging inadequately treated sewage that fails to meet these standards,' director of the EPA's office of environmental enforcement Dr Tom Ryan said. 'This is putting our health at risk and is having an impact on our rivers, lakes and coastal waters.'

The EPA has prosecuted Irish Water for delays in providing treatment plants at six of these areas, including Kilmore Quay. The 28 large towns and cities where waste water treatment failed to meet mandatory standards. These account for over half of the sewage collected in our public sewers. The final deadline to comply with the standards was 2005 and Ireland is before the EU Court of Justice for breaching these requirements. The Urban Waste Water Treatment 2017 report highlights how 38 towns and villages are discharging raw sewage.

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