THE Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) system servicing the Bonmahon/Knockmahon area is operating at capacity, as stated in the draft City & County Development Plan (2022-2028).
In addition, similar Septic Tank (ST) systems in nearby Annestown and Fenor are also at capacity, making the Copper Coast area, statistically speaking, the most stressed waste water network in the county.
Yet the strongest official indication from Irish Water – as of November 5 – goes no further than to state that “this matter is still under review with the appropriate department”.
At the Construction Industry Federation’s (CIF) recently held South East Conference at the Tower Hotel, Irish Water’s planned works in County Waterford extended to a single albeit significant project: the long-awaited Lemybrien WWTP.
Mark Murray, Irish Water’s National Growth and Development Programme Manager, also pointed towards the €25 million Towns & Villages project which included Dunmore East and Kilmacthomas. These works, he told delegates, focused on “capacity upgrades” in the specified areas, along with improving discharge standards.
Acknowledging the sentiment shared by several stakeholders during the conference, Mr Murray said: “It’s fair to say that most people have mentioned water services as being critical and the challenges around that. This is understood and appreciated by ourselves and particularly in the context of successful delivery of the Housing For All programme.”
Mr Murray said it was “astonishing to think that raw discharge is still going into (the sea) in the Duncannon area (on the Estuary), a beautiful coastline and (that) this is a real issue throughout the country”. It’s also an ongoing issue in Bonmahon, as local resident Jamie Power (of the Bonmahon Water Quality Initiative group) told this newspaper recently.
“It’s 50 years now since there was anything done with our public water system, which is both antiquated and at capacity,” he said.
“The whole area deserves better – we’ve made our submission to the new City & County Development Plan and we’ll be beating as loud a drum as we can to see positive action implemented for Bonmahon and the surrounding area.”
As for other future works, Irish Water’s Mark Murray said the Small Towns & Villages Growth Programme as identified in Housing For All, will “identify waste water deficits in terms of strategic infrastructure and has prioritised them for investment… and it’s likely that there will be more added as that programme advances. There are currently around 21 sites nationally on it but that is likely to increase and that will go over multiple investments.”
Minister of State Mary Butler (FF), along with Cllr Seanie Power (FG) and Cllr Conor McGuinness (SF), visited Bonmahon in early October to meet with members of the Water Quality Initiative.
Speaking to the Waterford News & Star, Minister Butler said she had “a detailed discussion regarding the very prevalent waste water issues facing the community at present”.
She added: “Since this meeting I have continued to liaise closely with the initiative while making representations on their behalf to Irish Water. I have submitted various information to Irish Water including EPA consultation documentation, discharge point surveys, microbiological surveys and other specific queries put forward by the Bonmahon initiative. I have also conveyed to Irish Water in no uncertain terms that they are in receipt of a significant increase in funding to provide water and sewerage services via a multiannual budget for the next five years as part of the National Development Plan (NDP) and this represents an opportunity to plan ahead in respect of this specific issue which requires urgent consideration.”
In a communication with Minister Butler, an Irish Water spokesperson stated that there was “no update (on the Bonmahon WWTP), however, I have just requested an urgent update. I have also forwarded the microbiological survey provided (by Minister Butler) to the relevant department for review and response”.
Irish Water said it understood that “this issue is a source of concern for Minister Butler and her constituents”.