The EPA report on our waste water services this week shows just how much money is required to put these vital services into acceptable working order in the coming years. However, I would raise serious questions about some aspects of the report and how the EPA is doing it’s business.
It is clear that there has been a serious lack of investment in this sector over many decades but I would question the accuracy of this report as there are towns where raw sewage is being discharged and that are omitted in this report. i am also aware of some schemes where there is work planned or being done not mentioned either.
I note from the report that the EPA are bringing actions against Irish Water yet at the same time they are expecting them to discharge their duties. That situation certainly does not make any sense to me. On the one hand they want Irish Water to do their job and on the other they are holding them back.
In many cases the EPA are dragging their heels when it comes to licencing and the case in Co Sligo of Lough Talt is one that springs to mind which is affecting 12,000 people. On one hand planning it is an issue and on the other there is a problem with a delay with the discharge licence. I am aware of several other schemes where the funding is there to do the work but it is being held up by the EPA delaying on the issuing of discharge licences.
In my opinion the EPA are talking out of two sides of their mouth and a serious review is needed to examine their role. The EPA are now under the auspices of the Department of Communications and Climate Change and the Minister needs to deal with these matters as decision are being delayed on important projects many in the West of Ireland. In many of cases where there are discharge licences required a solution can be found that would treat the water to 96% standard but the EPA are stalling progress. In my view the EPA actions are adding to the costs of these projects which is affecting the budgets available in general. It is something that needs to be adressed without delay.