THE Department of the Environment has, for almost three years, failed to respond to a proposal to extend the public sewer in Killarney to the heavily populated environs of the town.
A sewer extension is seen as essential to tackle serious pollution problems in Lough Lein. At present, thousands of one-off houses, as well as several bed and breakfasts and some hotels, in the immediate surrounds of Killarney, are dependent on septic tanks.
Poorly maintained septic tanks are among the chief causes of polluting matter ending up in picture-postcard Lough Lein, according to engineering surveys.
The issue was highlighted, yesterday, at a Kerry County Council meeting for the Killarney area.
Three councillors — Michael Gleeson, Brendan Cronin and Danny Healy-Rae — had separate motions down calling for a sewer extension to the Tralee Road, Aghadoe and Lissivigeen areas.
Kathleen O’Regan Sheppard, who led a deputation of Tralee Road residents to the meeting, asked Mr Healy-Rae to refer the matter to his father, Independent TD Jackie-Healy-Rae, with a view to getting government support.
Tralee Road people had been looking for an extension for 20 years, she said.
Sanitary services engineer Paul Cremin said a brief for a major extension of the sewer — to be known as the Killarney main Drainage Project — had been submitted to the Department of the Environment for approval, in October 2004.
The green light had not yet been granted, but he is being told by the department that approval may be given by the end of this month.
“Once we get approval we will not be found wanting and we will have resources in place,” Mr Cremin added.
The scheme would cater for the expanded urban area of Killarney and surrounding areas including Kilcummin, Beaufort, Lissivigeen, Scartlea, Tralee Road, Tiernaboul, Ballymaunagh and Aghadoe.
Ms O’Regan Sheppard hit out at what she described as a lack of a “can do” attitude in local government.
“It’s incredible that there’s been no follow-through on this urgently needed extension since 2004. Private enterprise would go to the wall if it behaved in that way.”
Ms O’Regan Sheppard urged councillors to continue pressing the Department.
Mr Gleeson, who chaired the meeting, said he could not over-emphasise the importance of the sewer extension which was vital for the “salvation of our lakes”.