Raw sewage that was being discharged to the environment untreated in Mayo has been stopped - following a €19 million investment in wastewater infrastructure by Irish Water in partnership with Mayo County Council.
A new wastewater treatment plant has been completed and is operational in Killala, stopping the discharge of raw sewage to Killala Bay.
This is along with the construction of a new plant in Foxford and the upgrade of the existing plant in Charlestown.
Irish Water stated: "These projects will bring benefits to the communities of Killala, Charlestown and Foxford in terms of protection of the environment; improved water quality for angling, water sports and marine life; and the capacity for these communities to grow in terms of the economy and population.
"The new sewerage schemes will also ensure that wastewater is adequately treated and meets appropriate standards before being safely discharged into the environment."
Local Fine Gael Councillor Jarlath Munnelly, who campaigned for the new plant in Killala, welcomed the news, saying: "This is a red letter day for Killala. I am not exaggerating when I say this is the most significant development in Killala since the French landed in 1798.
"This will make a huge different to Killala Bay and our natural environment and will give the town a platform to grow and develop. Most people who flush their toilet don’t consider where it goes. Now it is going to the right place and is treated before being returned to the environment."
Patrick Greene, Irish Water, added: "This project is hugely important to improving the quality of water in Killala Bay. The new wastewater treatment plant in Killala will serve a population equivalent (PE ) of 1,800 and will allow for social and economic growth. I would like to thank the communities and the businesses for their cooperation and patience while these essential works were being carried out."
Irish Water added that a new treatment plant to serve a population equivalent of 3,500 was built in Foxford, which also included the construction of a new pumping station and upgrade of the three existing pumping stations; installation of a new rising main and upgrade of the collection network.
In Charlestown, the work involved the upgrading of the existing wastewater treatment plant to increase the capacity to 3,400 PE, as well as the installation of new sewers and a new outfall to the Mullaghanoe River.
In 2018 Irish Water completed a €9 million wastewater treatment plant and sewerage infrastructure project in Belmullet, with a capacity to treat wastewater from a population of up to 2,500 people, which ended the discharge of untreated sewage at that location.
Irish Water said it is also progressing plans for a new wastewater treatment plant in Newport, to address the last remaining raw sewage being discharged in the county.