EPA report names 14 areas in Galway which pose water threat

Ballyloughane beach.

Several areas in Galway have been singled out in a new ‘list of shame’, which highlights environmental threats to water.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified 14 areas in Galway where pollution from wastewater treatment plants and raw sewage is contaminating waters.

The EPA’s priority areas include Galway City, Ahascragh, Athenry, Ballymoe, An Cheathrú Rua, Clifden, Glenamaddy, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Oughterard, Roundstone, An Spidéal and Woodford.

The EPA report noted that the treatment plants in Athenry, Gort and Oughterard did not comply with secondary treatment requirements. These failed because not all of the waste water is treated at the plants.

The report highlighted that raw sewage is not being treated and is flowing directly into rivers and seas at four locations – Ahascragh, An Cheathrú Rua, An Spidéal and Roundstone. It said that Kinvara had been discharging raw sewage into the bay but this has now been connected to a new treatment plant.

A further six areas were identified as having ‘pressure’ on water bodies, which were at risk of not meeting environmental objectives. These areas included Athenry, Ballymoe, Glenamaddy, Loughrea, Mountbellew and Woodford.

Clifden beach and Ballyloughane beach in the city were identified as having “poor quality” bathing waters because sewage is flowing raw into the sea.

Clifden was removed from the list in 2015 but has since been put back on the list because its water quality is again deemed to be “poor”.

The EPA report on Urban Waste Water Treatment in 2016, released last week, highlights the need for a multi-million Euros investment in Galway’s wastewater treatment systems. The report found there is a need to address the legacy of underinvestment in infrastructure needed to collect and treat waste water effectively.

Gerard O’Leary, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said: “Wastewater from over half our population failed to meet environmental standards. For many years Ireland failed to address the deficiencies in wastewater treatment. Substantial and sustained investment is now required to protect our valuable waterways and protect public health.”

Darragh Page of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement, said: “Ireland’s environment is at risk because waste water is not treated to the necessary standards, even though the final deadline to meet these standards was 2005. New or upgraded treatment systems are required in some areas. In other areas, there is already sufficient treatment capacity in place, but the management of the treatment systems needs to improve.”