Green watchdog pans "unacceptable" pace of Ireland's wastewater clean-up

Ireland’s green regulator has criticised the state for failing to invest fast enough in waste water treatment with the result that 28 of the country’s largest towns and cities remain in breach of the EU Urban Waste Water Directive (UWWD), well over a decade after the new standards were meant to kick-in.

The latest report from the Northern Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on compliance with the Brussels regime also highlighted that wastewater from 57 areas was having a significant impact on rivers, lakes and coastal waters. Equally of concern to the agency was the fact that last year raw sewage from 88,000 residents was discharged into the sea or other waters.

Head of enforcement at the EPA, Dr Tom Ryan, said: “It is unacceptable that,13 years after the final deadline to comply with treatment standards, there are still 28 large towns and cities discharging inadequately treated sewage that fails to meet these standards.”

The EPA’s priorities include work at 28 large towns and cities where waste water treatment fails to meet mandatory standards and 38 towns and villages which continue to discharge raw sewage

Also identified for urgent action are 57 areas where waste water discharges are the sole environmental threat to rivers, lakes and coastal waters at risk of pollution and 13 priority sewer systems in urgent need of upgrading.

Irish Water has been prosecuted for waste water failures by the agency while the government is before the EU Court of justice for breaching the UWWD.