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Government failure to invest in wastewater infrastructure ‘risk to public health’ – Ó Broin

24 October, 2017 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Water Eoin Ó Broin TD has commented on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report on Urban Waste Water Treatment. The report outlines that “waste water treatment in 50 of Ireland’s large towns and cities fail to comply with standards set to prevent pollution and protect public health”.

The Dublin Mid-West TD said:

“The failure of successive governments to prioritise investment in waste water treatment services has resulted in crumbling infrastructure that is not fit for purpose. The EPA has been publishing these reports for years and the government is failing to listen.

“The EPA report finds that waste water treatment is wholly inadequate in many areas and that significant funding is required to remedy the legacy of underinvestment in our infrastructure. It also finds that in 44 areas around Ireland waste water is collected and released back into the environment without treatment.

 “The EPA appeared before the Housing Committee in May and outlined to the members just how serious the problem with our waste water treatment services is. At this meeting, we were told that only €620m would be made available between 2017 and 2021 to fix this problem. Previous parliamentary question responses from former Minister Coveney indicated that €1 billion was needed to bring the infrastructure up to an adequate standard.

“The government isn’t treating this problem with the urgency it deserves. Due to the government’s ongoing failure to act on this matter, the State is being brought to the European Court of Justice for breaching the urban waste water treatment directive.

“The EU Commission commenced infringement proceedings against Ireland in September 2013. This was followed up with warnings in September 2015 and September 2016.

“The State could be liable for huge fines as a result of the infringement process currently underway for failing to ensure that urban waste water in 38 urban areas is effectively collected and treated.

“The government cannot afford to delay any longer and must increase investment in waste water infrastructure.” 

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