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€144m Harbour Drainage Project Reaches Completion

Writes Ciaran Dineen

Irish Water have announced that the Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project has reached completion following the official opening of the Cork Dockyard Pumping Station.

The project, costing €144m, was established to address the significant issue relating to the discharge of raw sewage into Cork Harbour. Untreated raw sewage had been discharging directly into Cork Lower Harbour for decades. Wastewater was collected from homes and businesses across the lower harbour area and discharged untreated into the sea. This practice was in breach of national and European legislation and Ireland is currently in contravention of the European Union Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive.

Irish Water constructed a new wastewater treatment plant in Shanbally connecting Crosshaven and Carrigaline, so that by 2017 the equivalent of 20,000 wheelie bins of raw sewage was treated daily. The sewer network was then expanded to connect the towns of Ringaskiddy, Shanbally, Passage West and Monkstown to the treatment plant, so that the equivalent of 30,000 wheelie bins daily of raw sewage was treated by early 2019.

Last week saw the final stage of project completion, with the remainder of the total sewage from Cobh now being treated. The raw sewage is now pumped to the Cork Dockyard pumping station and then transferred for treatment to Shanbally Wastewater Treatment Plant via the Lee Estuary Crossing – linking Cobh to Monkstown, before it's safe discharge to sea.

This means 20,000 homes and businesses are now connected to the new scheme and that raw sewage from these areas no longer discharge into the harbour, and according to Irish Water this will positively impact the local economy and greatly improve the amenity value of the Cork Lower Harbour for the surrounding communities.

Speaking at the official opening, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “This is a historic day for the communities living in and around Cork Lower Harbour, completing a project that ensures a cleaner harbour, and provides new opportunities for sustainable social and economic development. “We have already seen the benefits that this project has brought to Ringaskiddy, Shanbally, Crosshaven, Carrigaline, Passage West and Monkstown. “This final stage will add to that improvement – providing further capacity for growth and enhancing the wonderful amenity that is Cork Harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world.”

Mayor of Cork County Council, and former Councillor in the old Crosshaven-Bandon municipal district, Cllr Gillian Coughlan was also in attendance and welcomed the news by saying: “The ending of raw sewage discharges from Cobh town will make a huge difference to the town and surrounding area, by providing opportunities for sustainable development around Cork Lower Harbour and increasing the potential for tourism and recreational activities in the area.”

Representing the Carrigaline Municipal District was Passage-West resident, Cllr Marcia D’Alton, who was thrilled to mark the milestone, saying, “the new network on the Cobh side of the harbour has eliminated 19 outfalls from Cobh town which were previously pumping raw sewerage into the harbour. They'll have a couple of months of testing the pumping station and making sure everything is running smoothly but basically, we're on the home stretch!!”

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