Suggestions that raw sewage from Mutton Island treatment plant is being discharged into Galway Bay has been strenously denied by Galway City Council.
Director of Services for Transport and Infrastructure, Recreation and Amenity, Ciarán Hayes told a special meeting of the Galway City Council last Monday evening that sewage is not being allowed to be discharged in the bay. He was responding to a queries by Cllr Catherine Connolly (Ind ) in relation to tenders to update the facility and to reports of vents discharging raw sewage.
“I have repeatedly asked for clarification in relation to reports of sewage beign pumped out at Mutton Island. There were tenders to update it. Where are we on that?” Cllr Connolly asked Mr Hayes who later replied: “I would not like the impression to go out that we would allow sewage to be discharged, it’s not”.
Mr Hayes continued: “The network is designed to be able to cater for excessive flows, like in bad weather. The system is licensed by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency ) and it is in accordance with industry best practice. It’s not correct that we have discharge points where we don’t know what’s happening. There is no where in Ireland, or the developed world, where you have a system where every single discharge is notified.” He added that the tender for the operation, maintenance, and upgrade of Mutton Island is being assessed and an update will follow.
The two year progress report on the Galway City Development Plan 2011 to 2017, which was discussed at the meeting, revealed that funding for the upgrade of Mutton Island, which is part of the Galway Main Drainage Stage 3, has been approved for funding from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government and that a private service provider will be appointed in 2013 to carry out the upgrade.
The report also stated that the further extension of the pedestrian access to Mutton Island lighthouse is being investigated. It states: “Access to Mutton Island lighthouse was available at pre-arranged times during 2011/2012 to facilitate guided tours of the lighthouse. The potential to increase the frequency of access to facilitate tours of the lighthouse is being investigated.”
Responding to councillors’ calls for this access to be increased, Mr Hayes said: “It’s a major facility, an industrial plant, and access needs to be managed and have regard to safety.”