Under investment in wastewater poses health threat – Irish parliament warned
A legacy of under-investment in waste water infrastructure has left Ireland with a health risk because of the untreated sewage polluting the country’s waterways, the Irish parliament was told this week.
That warning came from the Environmental Protection Agency in a submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government.
The agency highlighted that “raw” sewage from the equivalent of 86,000 people was flowing into Irish waterways every day. This was “a health threat” that was not being dealt with quickly enough.
“Ireland is not addressing the deficiencies in waste water treatment infrastructure at a fast-enough pace and, consequently, our health is continually exposed to risk,” it said.
The committee was told Ireland had suffered a 3 per cent decline in good water quality between 2016 and 2017 in lakes and rivers with a continuing long-term decline of high-quality rivers.
At the same hearing, Irish Water explained that a drive to improve drinking quality had been prioritised in recent years. The state-owned company acknowledged that as a result the wastewater network was now in an “extremely poor condition” and would require “many years and hundreds of millions of euro” to fix.
Most urban wastewater schemes were expected to meet European Union regulatory standards by 2021, the committee heard.