Four towns and villages across Galway are still discharging raw sewage into waterways according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Roundstone, Carraroe, and Spiddal on Galway Bay, and Ahascragh in East Galway are not treating their sewage properly according to the EPA’s report on Urban Waste Water for 2017.
Overall the EPA found that 38 towns and villages around Ireland are still discharging raw sewage into rivers, canals, and the ocean.
The EPA has prosecuted Irish Water for delays in providing water treatment plants in six of those areas.
A further 28 large towns and cities have been dumping raw sewage into the water.
It’s estimated that the Spiddal area alone discharges some 600 wheelie bins worth of raw sewage into Galway Bay every day.
Planning permission was granted this month for a new wastewater treatment plant for Spiddal to end this.
Locals in Carraroe have been opposed to Irish Water’s plan for a new treatment plant at the pier because of its proximity to people’s homes.
Commenting on the report Dr Tom Ryan, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said: “Ireland is not addressing the deficiencies in its waste water treatment infrastructure at a fast-enough pace.”
“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. ”
“This is putting our health at risk and is having an impact on our rivers, lakes and coastal waters,” he finished.
The EPA says that though there have been some improvements since the last annual report, a legacy of underinvestment in infrastructure is still hurting the environment.
In order to tackle serious environmental concerns, the EPA says resources must be targeted to the areas where they can have the most effect.
There are 57 areas where sewage discharge is the sole environmental threat to rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.
Upgrades works are also needed at four beaches with poor quality bathing water including Clifden, Merion Strand, Loughshinny, and Sandymount Strand.
Darragh Page, Programme Manager of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said, “A substantial increase in the rate of investment is necessary to provide the infrastructure needed to treat our waste water.”
“Irish Water also needs to improve its understanding of the condition and performance of sewers, to help focus sewer upgrade works where they are most urgently needed.”