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Irish Water turns sod on landmark Arklow Wastewater Treatment Plant

  • Irish Water turns sod on landmark Arklow Wastewater Treatment Plant
    Credit: Irish Water

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Irish Water
As Ireland's national water utility we are responsible for providing water and wastewater services throughout Ireland.
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Irish Water, in partnership with Wicklow County Council, has marked the start of construction on a new state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant that will provide wastewater treatment for the first time for the community of Arklow. When completed, the treatment plant will bring significant benefits to the local community in terms of protecting the environment and improving water quality in the River Avoca for angling, water sports and marine life. It will also act as an enabler for housing and support economic growth and development in the town.

The start of this project marks another major milestone in Irish Water’s work to end the unacceptable practice of discharging untreated sewage into our waterways and seas. More than half of all the raw sewage discharges have been eliminated since the establishment of Irish Water in 2014 and Arklow is the largest remaining town without treatment. The commencement of this project and progress this year and next means that we are on track to eliminate the vast majority of raw sewage discharges by 2025.

A sod turning ceremony to mark the start of the works took place this morning led by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O Brien TD and supported by Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Councillor Shay Cullen, and representatives from Irish Water and Wicklow County Council. The landmark event was also attended by local TDs including Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD; Spokesperson on Social Protection, Deputy John Brady TD; and spokesperson for Planning and Local Government, Deputy Steven Matthews; as well as local community and business representatives. The event was organised in adherence with current government and HSE COVID-19 guidance.

Minister Darragh O’Brien commended Irish water for progressing the project saying: “I am delighted to be here today to officially turn the sod on Arklow Wastewater Treatment Plant. The construction of this wastewater treatment plant is pivotal for the future growth and development of Arklow town, and for the successful delivery of housing. Irish Water is to be commended for progressing this vital project as part of its commitment to the people of Arklow. The provision of a reliable wastewater service, in a manner that protects the natural environment, is essential to the economic and social development of this town. I would like to commend those involved in bringing the project to this important day and I would like to wish the project team well as they build this much needed wastewater treatment plant.”

Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr Shay Cullen added: “I’m honoured to be here to witness this historic event. The commencement of this vital sewerage infrastructure development will lead to enhanced tourism opportunities for the beautiful town of Arklow. The removal of untreated wastewater to the River Avoca has long been a goal of Wicklow County Council, and we can now look forward to all the benefits of a cleaner environment. I very much welcome the investment from Irish Water working in conjunction with Wicklow County Council.’

The project, which represents an investment of €139 million, includes the development of a new, state of the art, wastewater treatment plant that has been designed to provide an ultimate treatment capacity for a PE (population equivalent) of up to 36,000, at the Old Wallboard Factory site located at Ferrybank in Arklow, two interceptor sewer pipelines (along North and South Quay) to bring untreated wastewater to the proposed plant and a marine sea outfall pipe to safely discharge the treated wastewater effluent to the Irish Sea.

Brian Sheehan, Irish Water’s Head of Asset Delivery, added: “We are delighted to begin works on this essential project. Eliminating the discharge of untreated wastewater into the River Avoca has always been a priority for Irish Water and we are looking forward to ending this current practice and safeguarding water quality in the river and marine environment. We look forward to working closely with the local community on the project.

“The size and scale of the challenge of raw sewage discharging into our water ways is well documented. Since 2014, Irish Water has built new wastewater infrastructure for 16 towns and villages across the country, ending the discharge of raw sewage into our rivers, lakes and seas; the equivalent of 100,000 people’s worth, every day. Half of the raw sewage entering waterways in Ireland has now been eliminated and we are on track to fully removing the majority of raw sewage discharges by 2025.”

Commenting on the project, Garrett Dempsey, President of Arklow and District Chamber of Commerce, added “Wastewater infrastructure that is fit for purpose is essential for Arklow in order to support businesses and drive economic growth. The construction of Arklow Wastewater Treatment Plant will support existing and future commercial development by ensuring adequate capacity for future growth, significantly contributing to the overall economic health of the community.

The contract for the delivery of the project has been awarded to engineering contractors Ward & Burke Water Limited who will carry out the works on behalf of Irish Water.

Irish Water continues to work with our Local Authority partners, contractors and others to safeguard the health and well-being of both staff and the public to ensure the continuity of critical drinking water and wastewater services.

Irish Water is adhering to government and HSE guidance and in compliance with stringent COVID-19 controls to deliver this essential project. 

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