Speech by Minister Coveney at the opening of the Kinvara Waste Water Treatment Plant
Thank you. Councillors, distinguished guests, I’m delighted to welcome you as we come together to mark the official opening of a new, state of the art wastewater treatment plant here in Kinvara.
I would like to extend a warm welcome this morning to, Councillor Joe Beirne, Leas Cathaoirleach of Galway County Council, Jim Cullen Director of Services and his colleagues from Galway County Council, Seamus Granahan and his colleagues from Irish Water, representatives from Ryan Hanley, Response Engineering Ltd, and Source Civil Engineering, elected representatives, residents and business owners, ladies and gentlemen.
The opening of a waste water treatment plant rarely generates headlines beyond those in local newspapers, or several sentences of reportage on local radio, but such events are important and should be acknowledged for what they are. It’s a very proud day for Kinvara, as a result of the work carried out here, wastewater which previously was discharged untreated into the bay is now being fully treated and discharged safely back into the environment.
Kinvara Bay is at the heart of this community playing a vital role in supporting employment and tourism. Prior to the completion of this work Kinvara was one of 44 towns in Ireland where untreated wastewater was discharged directly into the sea. Now for the first time due to the single utility model that is Irish Water, we have an over-arching strategy on wastewater which is addressing these issues. The Utility has a planned approach which is already delivering, and will continue to deliver, sustained benefits in terms of improved compliance in wastewater treatment.
Given the need to prioritise, the immediate investment focus has been on those wastewater projects which will deliver the maximum environmental returns and will be delivered to site quickly. This helps to facilitate future growth and economic investment and ensures that untreated water does not enter our rivers and seas, helping boost tourism and protect the local environment.
This prioritised focus can be seen in the €5.1 million investment by Irish Water in the Kinvara Sewerage Scheme, including the building of the new plant, along with upgrade works on the town’s wastewater collection network. This work is part of the Utility’s national commitment to end the practise of discharging untreated sewage into rivers and seas by 2021.
We are viewing the results of Irish Water’s strategy first hand here today, the benefits of ending the discharge of raw sewage into the harbour are now tangible here in Kinvara. This plant will bring about improvements in water quality, health and environmental benefits, enhancement of the harbours value as an amenity and the capacity to support social and economic development and environmental compliance.
It should also be remembered that the need for a wastewater treatment plant for Kinvara is a requirement under both European and national legislation in order to improve the health and integrity of the environment and improve water quality and compliance with the European Union’s Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive.
This project will ensure that these water quality standards set down by regulatory bodies will be achieved which will help Ireland avoid substantial financial penalties.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all involved in delivering this wastewater treatment plant. I have attended a number of similar events marking major milestones achieved in improving our water and wastewater infrastructure around the country over the last few months and on each and every project it is the collaboration between Irish Water and the Local Authorities that is getting this much needed work over the line.
That collaboration has resulted in this work being carried out with minimum disruption to local residents and business owners here in Kinvara.
In addition to the great benefits this project will bring to the area, the plant here in Kinvara is also future-proofed, ensuring the capacity is available to cater for ongoing social and economic growth.
I will end today by thanking you all again for your work and the support you have given in completing this project. Kinvara has experienced significant growth in the last number of years and I am glad to say that you can now have full confidence that the required wastewater infrastructure is now in place to ensure this growth can continue in the coming years.