Untreated sewage continues to be dumped into Lough Foyle at Moville, while in Buncrana a lack of wastewater treatment threatens Lough Swilly, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) report ‘Urban Waste Water Treatment in 2021’, published last week.
Moville is one of only two large urban areas in the Republic [along with Arklow] continuing to pour raw sewage into coastal water.
A treatment plant for Moville is not scheduled for completion until 2027.
A local group has opposed plans for treated sewage to be released into the Foyle near Glenburnie Beach.
As a result, the project has stalled, pending a judicial review, Irish Water told the Inishowen Independent.
The review was initiated in 2020 by billionaire theatre producer and property owner John Gore.
“Irish Water has been served with High Court Judicial Review proceedings which are ongoing and have impeded progression of the Moville Sewerage Scheme,” an Irish Water spokesperson said.
“We will proceed with obtaining the statutory approvals required to progress the project as soon as it is in a position to do so,” the spokesperson said.
The EPA report states that out of a total of 32 areas nationwide, eight in Donegal still release untreated effluent into the environment: Moville, Rathmullan, Ramelton, Kilcar, Kerrykeel, Falcarragh, Coolatee and Burtonport.
The EPA report stresses that Irish Water “must build the wastewater infrastructure needed” to stop all raw sewage discharges.
Construction work is underway at almost half the areas and is due to start at the remainder between 2022 and 2024, which means that raw sewage discharges from 19 areas will cease over the next two years.
Moville is also listed as one of 12 large urban areas that do not meet the EU standards on wastewater treatment, incurring fines from the European Union Court of Justice.
According to the EPA report, Buncrana is a “national priority” and one of 38 areas nationally where wastewater treatment should be improved to prevent discharges from harming rivers, lakes and coastal waters.
Bathing water quality at Lady’s Bay was classified as poor last year and the EPA says this is because “untreated wastewater released occasionally from the town’s collecting system” into Lough Swilly.
“One of the main pollution sources that affected Lady’s Bay in 2021 was untreated wastewater released occasionally from the town’s collecting system,” the authority stated.
The EPA says it requires Irish Water to upgrade the collecting system to resolve this issue and has “identified Buncrana as a national priority area due to the importance of this work”.
Irish Water, told the Inishowen Independent, that the project is “progressing” but didn’t say when work might begin at the thirty-year-old plant, situated behind the tourist office.
“When completed the scheme will improve the discharge of treated effluent into the sea and provide the treatment capacity for future population growth within the Buncrana and Fahan areas.
“Irish Water is currently progressing with design works on the project,” a spokesperson said.
As part of the wider network upgrade, works will include an upgrade of the Westbrook pumping station and the construction of a new storm tank at the Buncrana wastewater treatment plant.
“Irish Water will award the contract for the wastewater network upgrade covering both Buncrana and Ballybofey/Stranorlar shortly,” a spokesperson said.