Children playing in puddles of sewerage

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“Sewerage is coming up through a manhole in the middle of the town”

CHILDREN in County Limerick are playing in puddles of sewerage, it has been confirmed by a senior executive engineer in the Environment Section of the council, and the blame is being placed on excessive pressure on treatment systems.

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Anne Goggin’s comments came at a Planning and Development meeting, as councillors voiced their irritation at the new code of practice issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with regard to Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems for single houses.

Pointing out that the new code of practice is mandatory, rather than a guideline, Ms Goggin said it “probably won’t make much difference, but will change the form of solution acceptable on sites”.

She said that every existing on-site system serving a single house must be inspected and certified.

“Households have to have 101% protection, but in parishes, villages and towns in the county you can watch the sewerage float in the rivers to God knows where!” said Cllr Kevin Sheahan (Askeaton).

“That’s what frustrates the public representatives. Until recently all of the city environs were floating into the River Shannon and justifying it by saying there was sufficient water to dispose of it. This is the same government who send down mandates about individuals in rural parts of the county”.

He added that there are settlement beds that were built in the 1930s and 1940’s for groups of around 30 houses.

“ Now they have around 1,500 houses relying on them and the waste is not getting a chance to settle and is overflowing. It’s an offence against nature. We all share this issue with the Department”.

Describing the issue as “farcical,” Cllr Patrick O’Donovan said: “All that seems to matter is that you have a happy planner but noxious gases are filling the air in Newcastle West, with sewerage overflow in the middle of Bridge Street”.

Cllr James Scanlan pointed out that sewerage “is coming up through a manhole in the middle of the town and the people are subjected to a smell caused by planners who overloaded towns to the detriment of residents”.

Gerald Quain, a farming representative on the committee said that once-off houses were being scapegoated by the Department of the Environment and the farming community blamed for pollution in rivers and lakes.

Cllr Mary Harty accused the council of being a polluter, while it is the individual who is paying the price.

Conceding that there is general unhappiness with the sewerage schemes, the council engineer, Anne Goggin said:

“Every week we are called out to children playing in puddles of sewerage with parents in tears because they can’t have a birthday party in their own garden and cattle have been drinking out of puddles of sewerage..

“This is what we are trying to avoid in the future. We understand no one is happy with the sewerage schemes and we are not turning a blind eye. I know how every plant is performing.”

On the suggestion of Cllr Noel Gleeson, it was agreed that a presentation on alternative treatment schemes, by Matt Shortt of North Tipperary Council, already given to the Mid West Regional Authority , would be requested for the next meeting.