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Speed up wastewater works in Ballina, urges councillor

Sewage flowing into our greatest natural resource, the River Shannon, is unacceptable, says O’Brien

IRISH Water has been urged to fast-track the upgrading of the existing Ballina Wastewater Treatment Plant following Tipperary County Council’s recent planning approval for these works.
Repeated overflows of the treatment plant, which has resulted in pollution of the nearby River Shannon has prompted calls for major upgrading of this overloaded sewerage treatment facility.
Tipperary County Council has stated upgrading works are programmed to start in the fourth quarter of 2022, with a completion date by the end of 2024, subject to funding and statutory approvals.
The plant, which serves the wastewater needs of Ballina and Killaloe, has a 4,000-person equivalent capacity and the current load estimate on this plant is for a 5,400-person equivalent.
Councillor Tony O’Brien confirmed Clare county councillors have not been informed of any change in the projected completion of these long-awaited improvement works.
“There is a major issue with the existing plant, which is over capacity and needs to be sorted out. If it takes three years to upgrade this wastewater treatment plant, that’s ridiculous. It looks like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hands is doing.
“The lack of adequate sewerage treatment capacity is hindering development in Killaloe where there is already a chronic shortage of houses.
“I would urge Clare County Council to make immediate representations to Irish Water to bring forward the completion date for the upgrading works following the granting of planning permission.
“The greatest natural resource we have is the River Shannon and it is not acceptable to have sewerage overflows into this river,” he said.
He questioned the anomaly where Clare County Council has refused a planning application for a new dwelling house due to the sewerage deficit, while Tipperary County Council, on the other side of Killaloe bridge, was approving similar planning applications.
In a cover letter to Tipperary County Council on behalf of Irish Water, Cork-based consultants RPS outlined the proposed development consists of upgrade works to the existing wastewater treatment plant. The works look to increase capacity, operation and efficiency of the site, as well as providing sufficient capacity for the projected population growth.
A new outfall to allow the treated effluent to discharge to the River Shannon is also proposed as part of the works.
RPS explained the proposed upgrade works are required to cater for the growth in population equivalent arising from the ten-year horizon, while also allowing for compliance with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive and proposed new Waste Water Discharge Authorisation standards.
Pre-application discussions were held with Tipperary County Council on November 12, 2020 between Michelle Bennett and Gary McCormack (RPS), Carmel Daly, Paula O’Dwyer and Niall Murray, Tipperary County Council and Julie Crowley, Irish Water.
As part of the consultation, the proposed development and contents of the planning application were discussed.
The approved works include the decommissioning of the existing inlet works, the construction of a new below ground inlet pump station, a new above ground inlet screening works area, one above ground storm overflow weir chamber and inlet fume, one partially below storm water storage tank and one above ground oxidation ditch splitter chamber.
It also comprises one partially below ground oxidation ditch, one below ground pump sump, one partially below ground clarifier splitter chamber and one partially below ground clarifier tank, one below ground meter chamber, one partially below sludge thickening tank and one outfall flume.
The development will also consist of the decommissioning of the existing treated effluent outfall to the Grange River, and the construction of a new treated effluent pipe and outfall, which will extend about 70 metres into the River Shannon before discharging to the lake via a single port diffuser, replacement of selected pipework within the existing process unit and ancillary development including underground chambers, cabling and piping and all associated site development works.
The treatment plant site measures 1.025 hectares and is located within Ballina town and contains the operating wastewater facility.
The River Shannon flows to the west of the proposed site and the site boundary extends into the River Shannon. This site is also served by an existing access from the regional road R494.
Anglers in Killaloe and Ballina have kicked up a stink over recent repeated overflows of Ballina Wastewater Treatment Plant, which has resulted in the pollution of the nearby River Shannon.
Tipperary County Council recently stated Irish Water implemented measures to address operational issues at the Ballina plant caused by heavy rainfall.
The plant had to be reseeded to assist with the recovery of the treatment process. Following this effluent quality has improved, with further improvements expected in the coming days.
As a long-term solution, the two authorities are progressing plans to upgrade the plant to ensure that it complies with the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive and can support ongoing growth and development in the area.
In the interim, operations and compliance teams are working to optimise the performance of the existing treatment plant to maximise the available capacity and protect the receiving waters of the River Grange from wastewater overflows.
Responding to Clare Champion queries, Irish Water stated the projected completion date of final quarter 2024 for the upgrading works was based on estimated planning, procurement and other statutory processes.
“In the interim Irish Water operations and compliance teams are working to optimise the performance of the existing treatment plant to maximise the available capacity and protect the receiving waters of the River Grange from wastewater overflows. Irish Water are also carrying out ongoing monitoring at the outflows and taking other appropriate measures to protect the aquatic environment.”

by Dan Danaher

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