The Water Advisory Body (the WAB) is an independent statutory body established under Part 7 of the Water Services Act 2017 to review how Irish Water performs against its own Strategic Funding Plan. They prepare Quarterly reports that are shared with the Oireachtas and published on the WAB’s website.
The Q2 2022 report published this week drew attention to the fact that while progress is being made by Irish Water the slow pace of implementation puts their targets to 2024 in jeopardy and more particularly Ireland’s targets for meeting requirements under the Wastewater Treatment Directive. Only one, of the 35 agglomerations without any wastewater treatment, has been provided with this essential service this quarter, so that means 34 systems still have to be provided within this funding period to 2024. In addition, flushing untreated wastewater into the natural environment means that we cannot achieve the good ecological status in our waterbodies that is required under the River Basin Management Plan.
Many of the wastewater treatment systems currently servicing towns and cities are not up to required standards to meet the objectives of the Wastewater Treatment Directive including Ringsend in Dublin that serves over 2 million people. This means Ireland’s continues to face infringements from the EU for not meeting legislative requirements.
The Water Forum wants the next River Basin Management Plan to include a list of measures that will be taken by Irish Water to address all of the wastewater issues in the 208 waterbodies not achieving good ecological status because of wastewater pressures. These actions should include timelines for delivery so that they will all be completed within this river basin management plan cycle period to 2027 and identified for funding within future Strategic Plans.
There needs to be a genuine commitment to address the issues so that these waterbodies have a chance of attaining or maintaining the good ecological status required under the River Basin Management Plan and Water Framework Directive.