TO put it very mildly, Shannon’s Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) hasn’t been working that well of late, something proved by the foul smells that have plagued the town.
Given its performance, it was somewhat surprising to learn that Clare Council Council have spent close to €3.5 million on it since 2010.
Following a motion from Councillor Gerry Flynn, members of Shannon Town Council received a report on the WWTP at their meeting on Tuesday, which had details of the current maintenance contract.
The report, prepared by county council water services engineer Sean Ward, stated, “The current contract is for the operation and maintenance of Tradaree Point WWTP, the pumping stations contributing to it and two stormwater pumping stations. The contract was awarded in 2010, based on a competitive tender, for an initial period of two years with the option to renew for a further two years. The contract was renewed in 2012.
“Yearly costs from 2010 to date are as follows: 2010, €737,114; 2011, €877,061; 2012, €918,406 and 2013, €940,000 approx.
“Variation in cost from year to year is due to two main factors, (I) variations in inflows in a dry year versus a wet year and (II) need for replacement or major upgrade of components.”
The report was quite open about the shortcomings of the plant as things stand. “The treatment plant and pumping stations were built in the 1960s by Shannon Development and taken over in 2004 by Clare County Council. Many of the components are at or near the end of their serviceable lives. There has been little or no capital investment in either the plant or the network since they were first built and the process, as originally designed and as currently operating, is not capable of meeting the effluent quality values required by the wastewater discharge authorisation licence issued by the EPA. The operation of the plant is also likely to be influenced by variations in the composition of, and peaks in the flow rate of, influents coming in from the network.”
The report gave some details of works being carried out at pumping stations, which it said would “reduce the amount of anaerobic activity taking place in the basins and producing odorous hydrogen sulphide”.
It also stated whether or not a long-term solution will be provided in the near future should become clear quite soon.
“The major (c. €22m) improvement scheme recommended in the consultant’s Preliminary Report, or an interim scheme incorporating major parts of the consultant’s recommendations along with recommendations in the EPA’s October 2013 audit report, would raise the treatment standards so as to reach the EPA specified figures. As indicated in the progress report to this meeting, Clare County Council should know shortly after January 14 whether or not such a scheme is included in Irish Water’s 2014-2015 capital programme.”
Councillor Flynn pointed out the Shannon public have been “enduring quite an obnoxious odour” for a number of years. He also said approval has been given for improvements at the Clonroadmore Treatment Plant in Ennis but that Shannon, which has been so problematic for so long, was “passed over”.
“We’re closed for business here in Shannon. That’s the bottom line,” he claimed.
He also claimed there has been serious investment in wastewater treatment in Donegal but claimed, “down here in Clare, with one of the biggest industrial estates in the country, we don’t seem to matter”.
Councillor Cathy McCafferty claimed people have been misled for some time about the cause of the local odour and the role the failing WWTP is playing in it.
She also said in 2002 it had been estimated that €8.8m would pay for the works needed but now it is more than twice that. The people of Shannon have been “badly treated and let down” the independent added.
Councillor Sean McLoughlin said while the plant is not doing what it should be, it is being caused by what is going into it. He said run-off from dumps in other counties is being brought to Shannon and disposed of.
Labour Councillor Tony McMahon said what is going on now is neither economical or satisfactory, while independent Councillor Patricia McCarthy said materials have been put into the system, when it is incapable of dealing with them.
Mayor of Shannon Greg Duff said there is a need for a united campaign to put pressure on Government to get the resources required for Shannon.