21 May 2017
By Bryan T. Smyth
Investment by Irish Water in Cork is leading to improvements in water quality, bringing health and environmental benefits and supporting social and economic development, a group of the city’s business leaders have been told. Staff from Irish Water and its parent company Ervia briefed Cork Chamber of Commerce on the projects currently being carried out by the utility in the city and county.
Among the key projects highlighted in the briefing was the Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project which is delivering significant improvements to water quality in Cork Lower Harbour by ending the current practice of the discharge of raw sewage directly into the harbour.
Catherine Sheridan, Community Relations Manager, explained that prior to the project commencing, the equivalent of 40,000 wheelie bins of raw sewage was being discharged into the lower harbour every day from Cobh, Carrigaline, Crosshaven, Passage West/Monkstown and Ringaskiddy. That has now been reduced by 50% following the opening of a new wastewater treatment plant at Shanbally at the beginning of this year and will be totally eliminated by the time the project is completed, with the waste from 20,000 homes and businesses being treated before being discharged safely to the sea.
Mark Murray, Infrastructure Programme Regional Lead, gave a briefing on other large infrastructure projects in the county including new wastewater treatment plants which have been completed in Carrigtwohill and Clonakilty. Construction is currently underway on a new €12.5 million treatment plant in Youghal, which on completion will end the current practice of discharging raw sewage into the Blackwater Estuary.
Other large scale investments currently in planning or underway in Cork include the upgrading of the Lee Road Water Treatment Plant which serves 100,000 people in the Cork City area; the rehabilitation of 27.3km of old water mains in the city at a cost of €15.8m; and the upgrade of the Bandon wastewater network, amongst others.
The briefing also addressed Irish Water’s commitment to facilitating residential and commercial development in Cork through the streamlining of its connection and developer services process. This includes the provision of a pre-connection enquiry process along with the facility for design vetting of housing development proposals. John O’Shaughnessy, Irish Water’s Regional Manager for Connections and Developer Services, outlined the proactive approach being taken by Irish Water and emphasised the importance of early engagement to allow the applicant to have full visibility of compliance to the Irish Water Code of Practice and what capital upgrades may be required to facilitate the development.
In thanking Irish Water for their engagement in presenting to business members, Conor Healy, CEO, Cork Chamber stated, “Both the supply side and waste water treatment infrastructure works underway in the Cork region are essential both retrospectively and for the sustainable growth of the region into the future. We recognise the commitment of Irish Water in realising solutions for the benefit of region and we look forward to engaging with Irish Water into the future.”
Michael G O’Sullivan, Ervia’s Director of Strategic Infrastructure and Group Strategy, commented: “We were delighted to have the opportunity to brief Cork Chamber of Commerce members on the various ways in which Irish Water is delivering for Cork. The excellent work being done in Cork city and county is part of the Irish Water business plan which aims, by 2021, to reduce the number of people on boil water notices to zero, eliminate the discharge of untreated wastewater and decrease network leakage to 38%.
“We are also very aware that we have a role to play in facilitating commercial and residential development and investment in Cork and to that end we will continue to liaise closely with Chamber members, multinationals, developers and other businesses throughout the city and county to ensure that the water and wastewater infrastructure they require is in place and up to the highest standard.”