A councillor has slammed chronic delays in resolving a relic of the Cork main drainage scheme, which has left ugly hoarding on a historic city quay for more than a decade.
Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy said the engineering problems blighting the Penrose Quay streetscape must be addressed once and for all.
“And the latest answer seems to be just kicking the can further down the road. It’s just not good enough.”
The €300m main drainage project was designed to ensure the city's sewage system complied with the EU Waste Water Directive at a time when some 13 tonnes of raw, untreated sewage were being discharged into the River Lee daily.
Following years of planning, work began in 1998 on what was the largest engineering project in the State. It was completed in late 2004.
It involved the laying of 38km of interceptor sewers, including new sewer connections to all premises on Cork's central island, along with some 39km of rising mains.
Ten pumping stations were constructed, and a 2.7 km main trunk sewer was laid, linking Kennedy Quay with a pumping station at Atlantic Pond.
The scheme transformed the water quality of the river, but Mr McCarthy said that a few years after the scheme was completed, hoarding was erected around steel girders which were left sticking out over a siphon on Penrose Quay.
It has remained in place ever since.
The hoarding surrounds the access shaft to a large wastewater siphon, which carries sewage from the city’s northside beneath the river and onward to a large pumping station, east of the Atlantic Pond.
Mr McCarthy was told this week that during periods of high flow, the siphon and its access chamber become “prone to venting”, when turbulence forces the release of “entrained air” in the sewage flow, and that people must be kept back from this venting area.
“The issues causing the venting are complex, and are currently being assessed by Irish Water," he was told.
Irish Water issued a draft report on the problem last October, but following “preliminary data collection, a workshop, and further assessment”, the report was revised and reissued in May with a recommendation to carry out further investigative works and identify a solution.
That work is ongoing, and there is no timeline, Mr McCarthy was told.
He praised recent efforts to reduce the visual impact of the hoarding, with Crawford Art Gallery print displays of historic Cork paintings, but he said the hoarding was meant to be a sticking-plaster solution.
“It’s on the main approach road to the city from the east, we are seeing massive office, hotel, and hopefully apartment development on Penrose Quay, and this needs to be dealt with,” he said.