Athlone and numerous County Westmeath communities are benefitting from Irish Water’s consistent progress in upgrading wastewater treatment and eliminating the discharge of raw sewage to Ireland’s rivers, lakes and coastal areas, enhancing the environment in the process.
The company continues to invest in wastewater infrastructure in Athlone to safeguard the environment by ensuring compliance with national and EU legislation while also supporting housing and economic development in the town.
In the last six years, Irish Water has prioritised areas where it can support housing and development and have the greatest environmental impact, particularly in locations where raw sewage was discharging into our rivers and seas.
Over 60 percent of raw sewage discharges have been eliminated since 2015 – and replaced with treatment capacity for the equivalent of 120,000 people. As a result of the targeted investment in wastewater infrastructure, communities around Ireland are now reaping the rewards of a cleaner environment, safer bathing waters and greater opportunities for the development of new homes, businesses and tourism.
To date, new wastewater treatment plants have been built in 17 locations where raw sewage had been discharged into the sea for decades. By the end of this year construction will have started in an additional 14 locations, with a further eight projects due to get underway next year and the remaining nine from 2023 onwards. This means that the majority of raw sewage discharges are on track to be removed by the end of 2025.
Athlone Main Drainage Sewer Network
In Westmeath, Irish Water has already invested €5.6m to increase the capacity of Athlone Wastewater Treatment Plant from 30,000 to 36,000 Population Equivalent (PE ).
The Athlone Main Drainage Sewer Network Upgrade project is also underway and is currently progressing through the procurement stage, with the construction contract expected to be awarded in the second half of 2022.
The project involves the construction of new pumping stations in Golden Island and Coosan West, and the construction of almost three kilometres of sewer network. It will also involve the removal of six existing overflows and the construction of two new overflows designed to Irish Water standards as well as connecting the new and existing sewer networks together.
When completed, the project will reduce the risk of sewer flooding in Athlone and reduce sewer overflows to the River Shannon. It will also ensure that the wastewater infrastructure meets the needs of homes and businesses in Athlone and surrounding areas whilst also providing capacity for future growth and development.
“Having a modern, sustainable and functional wastewater network is critical in order to protect our environment and to support housing and economic growth in the years ahead. Irish Water is working closely with the EPA and our other partners, including local authorities, to ensure this can be delivered in the most efficient and sustainable way through the use of cutting-edge technologies, science and engineering expertise, and meaningful engagement with local communities around Ireland.
“There is no doubt that challenges remain. Much of the infrastructure for safely collecting and treating wastewater around the country has suffered from decades of under-investment. But Irish Water has a plan in place to address these deficiencies and we are making real progress.
“Continued investment will be required in the coming years to build a modern, fit-for-purpose wastewater network but we are confident that we are on track to achieving that aim,” Michael Tinsley, Wastewater Portfolio Delivery Manager with Irish Water, commented.
One of the key priorities in Irish Water is compliance with the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive. Due to the work undertaken to address long-standing issues with many wastewater treatment plants, the compliance rates have increased from 71 percent in 2014 to 93 percent in 2020.