Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has asked Irish Water to step up its plans for a new sewerage treatment plant in Kilkee after a malfunction at the town’s wastewater pump plant last week resulted in the closure of the beach.

“I have been making representations about the lack of a proper wastewater plant in Kilkee for several years and I was delighted when budget approval was received last February to move to the design, planning and procurement stage for new sewerage treatment plants in Kilrush and Kilkee.

“Following the closure of the beach at the height of the tourist season last week, I am now asking  Irish Water to accelerate progress on the Kilkee plant where construction is expected to start in 2019 with the work taking 12 to 18 months to complete,” he explained.

“I am looking for an immediate start on issues such as planning permission, site investigation, environmental surveys, licensing, land acquisition and way-leave procurement so that construction can be brought forward.

“Kilkee is one of 45 different locations in the State where raw sewage is pumped directly into a water channel, in this case straight into the Atlantic Ocean. This practice was highlighted by the EPA in their Urban Waste Water Report of 2014. These discharges contribute to poor quality bathing waters at times in Kilkee while the system in Kilrush is totally outdated,” the Clare TD declared.

“New treatment plants were first promised for Kilrush and Kilkee in 2005 and were included in the Department of Environment’s investment Programme 2010-2013. At the time of transfer of the local water services function to Irish Water, these schemes were at a stage where the preliminary report had received approval from the Department of the Environment.

“The next step was to procure a site investigation contract, phase one of the wastewater treatment plant and phase two of collection systems. Clare County Council presented a business plan to Irish Water with regard to these schemes at the time of transfer requesting that they be included in the Capital Plan.

“Irish Water undertook a concept design study last year and I have now been informed that they have received budget approval to proceed to the next stage which includes detailed design, planning and procurement, Deputy Carey explained.

Provision for the Kilrush and Kilkee treatment works are included in the current Irish Water Investment Plan 2017 -2021. Irish Water has committed that by the end of 2021 the practice of discharging untreated effluent from the areas identified in the EPA Waste Water Report will cease.