Work on an underwater sewage pipe crossing Cork’s lower harbour will start this year as part of a €117m project to end the daily discharge of thousands of tonnes of raw sewage into the sea.
Irish Water also said it plans to start installing new sewers in Cobh early next year.
When combined, the sewers and the pipe will allow for the collection and pumping of Cobh’s sewage to a facility in Monkstown, from where it will pumped to Shanbally for treatment.
Confirmation of the timeline for the next phases of the massive Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage scheme comes following the installation of an underground structure in Monkstown to house a pumping station.
For decades, the equivalent of 40,000 wheelie bins of raw sewage from some 50,000 people living in harbour towns such as Cobh, Carrigaline, Crosshaven, Passage West, Monkstown, and Ringaskiddy, was being discharged into the harbour daily through 33 discharge pipes.
Against the backdrop of the threat of massive EU fines, plans were drawn up to tackle the problem.
Irish Water, in partnership with Cork County Council, began work in 2014 on the main drainage project, which included the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant at Shanbally, 14 pumping stations, 30km of new pipes as well as repairing 25km of old pipes.
A new sewerage network has been built around Carrigaline, Shanbally, and Ringaskiddy, and the Shanbally treatment plant, commissioned last year, halved the amount of raw sewage being discharged into the harbour — down from the equivalent of 40,000 wheelie bins every day to 20,000.
Work is underway in the Passage West-Monkstown area to build new pumping stations and sewers to take wastewater from the area to the Shanbally plant. An underground structure to house a pumping station at Monkstown carpark was sunk into position recently.
By the time the entire drainage scheme is completed in 2021, all wastewater from Cobh, Passage West, Glenbrook, Monkstown, Carrigaline, Ringaskiddy and Shanbally will be fully treated before being safely returned to the environment.
Project manager Deaglan Healy said the entire scheme will transform the harbour.
“It will mean a cleaner harbour for all, enhancing its amenity value for local people and visitors to the area. It will facilitate the future growth and development of the Lower Harbour area by providing the infrastructure needed to support new homes and businesses,” he said. “And it will ensure that we are compliant with all European and national legislation in relation to the treatment of wastewater.
Meanwhile, construction is due to commence shortly on a €10m Courtmacsherry-Timoleague Sewerage Scheme to end the discharge of untreated wastewater into the Arigideen River and the estuary with a new treatment plant and pumping station planned.
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