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Kicking up a stink over Ardnacrusha sewerage overflows

Ardnacrusha residents are kicking up stink over sewerage overflows in their estate, which have been condemned as a “public health and environmental hazard”.

Residents in Lackyle Heights are becoming increasingly frustrated over the delay in resolving problems with a sewerage treatment plant serving the estate that were first highlighted to Clare County Council in November 2011 since Keelgrove Construction, which is now in receivership, experienced serious financial difficulties.

Clare County Council, which insists it is not responsible for the wastewater treatment plant, has initiated a clean-up each time an overflow has occurred.
However, residents believe the council should bear some responsibility as its planning department granted permission for the construction of housing estates in Lackyle Heights, Keelgrove and Ballyglass, all of which are served by the one treatment plant.

Lackyle Heights resident Sinead Nolan stated she has gone to a local drop-off point for the school bus to ensure children don’t unwittingly walk on toilet paper and human excrement, which regularly overflows from storm drain manholes due to a malfunction with the sewerage treatment plant.

She said cars were recently driving through human excrement and foul grey water all day after very heavy rainfall resulted in one of the worst overflows.
“There is only one footpath entering or exiting the estate so pedestrians have to walk on the public road if they want to avoid coming into contact with toilet paper and excrement on the footpath,” she said.

She stated there is a terrible odour at the bridge on the Blackwater on the Killaloe road, about one kilometre away, as a result of this “public health and environmental hazard”.
Last March, she said motorists and pedestrians had to endure the added complication of a frozen sewage slick across the road due to the freezing conditions.

Councillor Michael Begley said it seems a problem has developed with the screening system leading to the treatment plant, which is supposed to remove any solid object such as nappies, but when it fails to do so sewerage backs up through the storm gullies.
He believes some storm water may be getting into the sewer network, which is also contributing to an overflow and malfunction of the treatment plant.
The key to resolving this issue, he claimed, is a successful draw down by the council of an insurance bond held by Bank of Ireland, believed to be in the region of €155,000. It is understood a portion of the smaller cash bond of about €20,000 was used by the council to conduct a recent clean up.

While the bank was initially prepared to release the bond payment, it subsequently sought clarification about a number of issues, which has delayed the process.
Acknowledging this issue has dragged on too long at the expense of residents, he requested the council and the bank to resolve any outstanding issues to facilitate the speedy drawing down of the bond.

Confusion has also arisen as to who is responsible for resolving problems with the wastewater treatment plant after a liquidator was appointed to Keelgrove Construction last November.
The council insists it isn’t responsible and has advised residents to contact the receiver for Keelgrove Construction, Michael Cotter of Ernst and Young or a company representative, who has been retained by Ernst and Young to maintain the treatment plant.

The Clare Champion understands that this is being disputed by the receiver, who has apparently told the council that Keelgrove Construction does not own the lands within the folio where wastewater treatment plant is located.
“The receiver has no obligation in relation to the treatment plant or the site in general and therefore has no role to play in the waste water treatment plant,” he added.

The Clare Champion also contacted a Keelgrove representative, who agreed to issue a response to a number of queries, but hadn’t done so at the time of going to press.
Even though the council has taken over responsibility for services in the estate, the wastewater treatment plant, located in the nearby Keelgrove Estate, is outside its remit.

In addition to carrying out daily checks on the estate to monitor for overflows, the council has also ensured that the relevant and responsible party has been notified each time the authority become aware of a problem.
It is understood the overflow has stopped on the same working day on each occasion.

In a recent statement to residents, the council said it is committed to finding a resolution.
The planning department of the council is in discussions with the relevant parties to progress the taking in charge process for Ballyglass and Keelgrove, which incorporate the treatment plant.

The council has also met with representatives of the residents’ committees and is in regular contact with this group.
Residents have been advised to continue to keep the council informed of issues within the estate as the council will continue to do what it can to alleviate the overflow.

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