5 April 2018
By Bryan Smyth
Every day the equivalent of 20,000 wheelie bins of raw sewage is released into Cork Lower Harbour from the communities living around it. Irish Water, in partnership with Cork County Council, is working to end this decades-long practice and clean up the harbour through its investment in the Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project.
Since the project got underway in 2014, we have halved the amount of raw sewage being discharged into the harbour – down from the equivalent of 40,000 wheelie bins every day to 20,000. By the time the project is completed in 2021, this will be reduced to zero.
This will have major benefits in terms of protecting the environment and the health of local communities, facilitating economic development and providing for a growing population.
The project involves the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant at Shanbally, 14 pumping stations, 30km of new pipelines as well as repairing 25km of old pipes. By the time it is completed, all wastewater from Cobh, Passage West, Glenbrook, Monkstown, Carrigaline, Ringaskiddy and Shanbally will fully treated before being safely returned to the environment.
Substantial progress has been made to date, including the opening of the treatment plant in Shanbally in April 2017 and the construction of a new sewer network around Carrigaline, Shanbally and Ringaskiddy. Work is currently underway in the Passage West-Monkstown area to build new pumping stations and sewers to take wastewater from homes and businesses in the area to the treatment plant in Shanbally.
An important milestone was reached in Monkstown recently with the installation of the underground structure that will house the pumping station at Monkstown carpark. This structure – or ‘caisson’ – was built above ground and then sunk into its final position in order to minimise the time and disruption associated with constructing it underground.
Towards the end of this year we will be moving into the next phase of the project involving the construction of a pipeline across the harbour which will connect Cobh to the new wastewater treatment network. Together with the construction of new sewers in the town, which will commence in early 2019, this will allow all Cobh’s sewage to be pumped to Shanbally for treatment before being safely returned to the environment.
By the time the project is completed, more than 20,000 homes and businesses will be connected to the network. That is 20,000 homes and businesses that will no longer be discharging untreated sewage into the harbour.
Irish Water’s Project Manager Deaglan Healy commented: “Irish Water is immensely proud to be involved in cleaning up Cork Lower Harbour. With this project, we will eliminate the discharge of raw sewage into its waters and ensure that all wastewater is treated to the very highest standards before being returned safely to the environment.
“The benefits of this work are clear. It will mean a cleaner harbour for all, enhancing its amenity value for local people and visitors to the area. It will facilitate the future growth and development of the Lower Harbour area by providing the infrastructure needed to support new homes and businesses. And it will ensure that we are compliant with all European and national legislation in relation to the treatment of wastewater.”
“Throughout this project we have been committed to communicating openly and honestly with local communities. As we move into the next phases we will continue to keep residents and businesses informed while also listening to their views and taking all feedback on board. We are particularly grateful for the support and encouragement we have received from elected representatives, community groups and business organisations in the area. The Lower Harbour belongs to all of us and is an essential part of all our lives. Working together, I am confident we can provide a safe, clean harbour for everyone.”