Irish Water must accelerate works at Shanganagh and Ringsend wastewater treatment plants to tackle the water quality crisis in Dublin Bay, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Deputy Carroll MacNeill said: “Irish Water recently informed me that the ongoing works in the Shanganagh Catchment Drainage Area Plan Programme (DAP) and West Pier/ Ringsend Catchment DAP will not be completed until 2023 and 2024 respectively. So that’s before the necessary works really begin in earnest.
“Given the extent of the water quality problem in Dublin Bay and the potential risk it poses to public health, I am calling on Irish Water to expedite these works to reflect the severity of the issue at hand here.
“Irish Water is also progressing with the installation of new telemetry systems at pumping station overflow locations including; two Coliemore pumping stations; Blackrock; West Pier; Bullock Harbour; Killiney; Seafield; Kilternan and Strand Road, Killiney. But we need a clear timeline for this, and a statement of the relative improvements that this will offer water users and the expected impact on the environment from their installation.
“While of course I welcome these works, this issue has been ongoing for far too long now and we must ensure a much quicker and more transparent timeline than what has been available to date.
“If we need to extend the bathing season to ensure more year round testing for the protection of year round sea users, as well as the broader environmental pressures on the Bay, then let’s do that until the broader issue is fixed for the Dún Laoghaire area.
“I’ve been working with Gerard Jones, Chairman of the environmental action group SOS Dublin Bay, over the past number of months. I warmly welcome the launch of the Group’s policy document this week as well as the level of community concern for our shared and brilliant seafront which has become ever more special to Dublin residents since they’ve been stuck at home either looking at it more or wanting to use it more during the pandemic.
“According to the SOS Group’s research, in the four-year period from 2017 to 2020, a total of 8.875 million cubic metres of untreated sewage and storm waters has been discharged into Dublin Bay from the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant.
“I’ve been contacted by many residents worried about this discharge and the quality of water in Dublin Bay. To get an idea of the scale of local concerns and experiences, I conducted a survey on people’s experience of the water quality in the area last year.
“SOS Dublin Bay also carried out a survey in March, the results of which mirror nearly exactly the feedback I received. The vast majority of those surveyed by SOS use Dublin Bay primarily for swimming, with more than half using the Bay every day. Over 20% have been ill or suffered adverse health effects as a result of recreational activity they’ve undertaken in the Bay.
“These results indicate what an incredibly important asset Dublin Bay is to us. However, the results also indicate a serious problem, with those who reported feeling ill after being in the Bay suffering from diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, stomach aches and vomiting.
“I support the Group’s calls for urgent steps to better inform the general public of the extent of the problem, as well as urgent action to clean up Dublin Bay.
“I have raised this issue on multiple occasions with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, as well as with Irish Water whom I met with in some detail on this initially in July 2019 and again in December 2020 to monitor progress.
“Irish Water have informed me that they are currently investigating the performance of the wastewater networks in Dún Laoghaire – Rathdown with a view to designing the necessary upgrades to resolve current issues as well as upgrades for expected future flows. While I do welcome these works, this issue has been ongoing for too long and we must ensure we reach a solution much quicker than what is currently planned,” concluded Deputy Carroll MacNeill.