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Plans being prepared to halt raw sewage discharge into sea at Howth – The Irish Times


Plans are being prepared to prevent raw sewage from being pumped into the sea in north county Dublin more than a decade after a solution was due to be put in place.

A pipeline at the picturesque Doldrum Bay in the suburb of Howth continues to spew sewage into the sea from 45 local homes, catering to a population of just 120 people.

Campaigners in the area say that, despite the situation, visible public warnings are insufficient and visitors to the beach, which lies off a popular coastal walking route, are often seen bathing close to the outlet. Others harvest periwinkles to eat.

‘Elimination’ of problem

Irish Water, which recently briefed the local community on plans for two new pumping stations, said it aims to apply for planning permission later this year.

“The elimination of discharge in this area is a particularly challenging project that required extensive consultation and design,” said a spokesman. “Constraints included a densely developed area, Howth Special Amenity Area Order, Howth Special Area of conversation and multiple technical challenges to overcome, over and above most Irish Water projects.”

Local Green Party Cllr David Healy said the pollution was supposed to have been addressed as part of a licensing agreement attached to the operation of the Ringsend wastewater treatment plant, by the end of 2011.

Doldrum Bay is symptomatic of a far wider problem — raw sewage has been stopped from entering water bodies in just 17 of 50 areas identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the last 10 years. Irish Water plans to rectify the “vast majority” by 2025 and said Doldrum Bay had been made a priority since some initial works were carried out seven years ago.

Patrick Jackson, a resident and campaigner behind the school-based Picker Pals clean environment initiative, described how the sewage used to flow out on to the beach itself from an older shattered pipe.

“There was about 100sq m of the beach that was just disgusting. There was an old pipe that was just broken up,” he said. About seven years ago he began a campaign to bring about a solution, and since then a new pipe extension has moved the sewage beyond the low water mark.

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