Raw Sewage in Wicklow Waters a Concern for All

Arklow Harbour

A report released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has shown that in 2021, half of Ireland’s wastewater was not treated to EU standards. While much of this was related to Dublin’s Ringsend wastewater treatment plant, Arklow in Wicklow was also noted in the report. 

“Arklow is noted in a list of just 12 urban areas not meeting EU standards” said MEP O’Sullivan. “While Irish Water have said they are playing catch-up since their setting-up in 2014, I don’t believe it’s acceptable that we are still missing European targets from 2005 in this day and age. Work on adequate treatment of our urban wastewater must be fast-tracked as soon as possible”. 

The settlements of Arklow and Avoca were also noted in the report as not having adequate sewage treatment in place, and so therefore are releasing raw sewage into nearby rivers or directly into the sea. 

“I’m an avid sea swimmer, and as an Island nation we should have a closer relationship and be taking care of our natural waters. There’s a public health risk here too, as well as an economic one for some tourist hotspots – we’ve seen some beaches being closed down in the peak of summer in recent years due to inadequate water quality” O’Sullivan shared.

Irish Water have stated that they plan for all sewage outflows to be treated by 2025 at the latest, with sewage from Arklow and Avoca to be treated by this latest date. They also stated that since 2014, 60% of raw sewage discharges by volume have been eliminated through targeted investment in new sewerage infrastructure.

MEP Grace O’Sullivan is the Green Party Spokesperson on the Marine, and works in the European Parliament on both the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee and Fisheries Committee. Most recently she passed a resolution in the Parliament to stop oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, and she continues to work on the areas of water quality and marine conservation. 

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