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Ireland’s inadequate water infrastructure comes under renewed pressure from European Commission as court case looms

Ireland’s inadequate water infrastructure comes under renewed pressure from European Commission as court case looms

European Commission takes Ireland to Court for failure to adequately collect and treat urban waste water

The European Commission is taking Ireland to the European Court of Justice for its failure to ensure that urban waste water in 38 towns across the country is adequately collected and treated to prevent serious risks to human health and the environment.

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This throws another spotlight on Ireland’s sub-standard water infrastructure and the lack of clarity around who is going to pay for the investment necessary to bring it up to the required standard, said Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes.

“Under EU law, towns and cities are required to collect and treat their urban waste water, as untreated waste water can put human health at risk and pollute lakes, rivers, soil, coastal and groundwater.

“The European Commission has identified 38 areas around the country with inadequate wastewater infrastructure. They are: Arklow, Athlone, Ballybofey/Stranorlar, Ballincollig New, Castlecomer, Cavan, Clifden, Clonakily, Cobh, Cork City, Dundalk, Enfield, Enniscorthy, Fermoy, Gaoth Dobhair, Killarney, Killybegs, Longford, Mallow, Midleton, Monksland, Navan, Nenagh, Oberstown, Pasage/Monktown, Portarlington, Rathcormac, Ringaskiddy, Ringsend, Roscommon Town, Roscrea, Shannon Town, Thurles, Tralee, Tubbercurry, Youghal and Waterford City.

“There are also additional concerns about the failure to ensure that a correct operating licence has been issued for treatment plants at Arklow and Castlebridge,” Mr. Hayes added.

“According to a recent Commission report on the implementation of EU environmental policy and law in Member States, one of the main challenges we in Ireland are facing is maintaining the important investments required for water services, given the urgent need for investment in water infrastructure.

“As it stands, our water system is not fit for purpose. The EPA did a study in 2011 that showed that only about 50% of Ireland’s surface water bodies meet the Water Framework Directive’s criteria for high or good status. The 2004 Drinking Water report found that 16% of the population was served by at-risk supplies. Irish Water has committed to investing €5.5 billion over 7 years to bring our water infrastructure to acceptable levels.

“This legal action increases the pressure on the Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Water Services – which is due to make its recommendation on the future of domestic charge by the end of March – to do so, definitively and without any delay.”

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