The whistle-clean County Waterford village of Stradbally is once again on high sewage alert.
According to local farmer and community activist Tom Hickey, such was the amount of raw sewage pouring into the Cove last week that "you could float a boat on it".
Then last Friday night people's water taps ran dry, not an unusual occurrence in the seaside village and surrounding areas.
On Monday a bulk tanker of water was in situ, with the fire brigade "doing a great job" bringing water to houses, filling bath tubs, etc. Tom added, that Waterford County Council staff had been "most helpful under trying conditions".
The sewage and water systems in Stradbally were built in the early 1950s, with no improvements have been made to the piping network since. The original septic tank there was designed for 240 persons.
The population of Stradbally was 351 in 2005 and is predicted to grow to 1,068 by 2025. In summer time the seasonal population increases to around 400. All the while the water reservoir capacity has remained the same as the original scheme.
Tom points out that prior to the building boom of the mid-1990s there were 73 houses in the village, renowned for its high Tidy Towns ratings. Since then, however, the County Council have granted planning permission for about 200 houses. Most of this sewage discharges into the River Tay and flows into Stradbally Cove with obvious consequences for bathing water quality at the beach.
"It is wrong that families with children, our senior citizens, local businesses, schools and indeed homes are left in this situation," says Catherine Clancy, a colleague on Stradbally Tourism & Enterprise Group, asking: "Why do Council planners continue to give planning permission in the village without proper infrastructure in place?"
Indeed, the current County Development Plan (2005-2011), states that "any development, which impacts negatively on bath ing water quality and hence human health, is unlikely to be favourably considered".
In 2002 Mr. Hickey among others made a formal complaint to. the EU Commission 'against Waterford County Council and Ireland for the. discharge of raw sewage into the Cove in breach of the Bathing Water Directive.
As a result of tests the local group carried out, the then South Eastern Health Board recommended that signs be erected warning people not to bathe, paddle or wash utensils in the river at the Cove.
This was prompted by an outbreak the previous summer when six of 13 children attending swimming classes in the Cove were sick within one hour of going into the water. "At the time," says Tom, "Waterford Co Council gave us a commitment that no further planning permission would be given until proper sewage treatment facilities were in place. What needs to happen before they do the right thing?"
The sanitary services in Stradbally are due to be upgraded under the long-delayed EUR46m-plus 'Seven Villages' sewerage scheme. CPOs for the site at Stradbally More are in place, with objections by the affected landowner, Mr Walter Drohan, having been resolved at an Oral Hearing in Dungarvan in June of last year.
However, so far progress on actually constructing the grouped sewerage works - which will each have with an operation phase of 20 years; and a design population equivalent of 1,185 in Stradbally's case - has been dropping slow. The optimistic completion target (the schemes are to be built simultaneously) has now been pushed back to late 2011.
Applications for foreshore licences in respect of outfall pipes for the proposed storm/surface water collection system and waste water treatment plants, lodged in April 2005, are still being examined by the engineering division in the Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
Minister Eamon Ryan told John Deasy earlier this month that their view is that the Stradbally outfall should be protected by a rock layer. The final discharge point will be at Ballyvooney Cove, with an analysis for the Council deeming that there would be a negligible detrimental effect on the inter-tidal sections of the shore as a result.
Meanwhile, the Stradbaliy Sheskin Water Supply Scheme, which supplies the village of Stradbally and the hinterland to the southwest as far as Ballyvoyle, continues to be dogged by mains difficulties.
The supply takes from a single source taken from an impoundment on the Tay. Water is treated with alum dosing and pressure filtration and pumped to the Stradbaliy Reservoir. Water gravitates to the village and is boosted to Sheskin.
There are currently 235 domestic and 40 non-domestic connections on the scheme. However, significant residential development pressure is evidenced by 155 houses currently at planning stage.
The Council says the Tay offers significant spare capacity based on current average demand. The limiting factor is the poor condition of the 4" rising main from the treatment works to the storage reservoir (the capacity of which needs to be increased) over a distance of 2km. There are numerous leaks due to deterioration of the Asbestos pipe which proves very problematic to maintain due to its location beside the river. There's a preliminary cost estimate of EUR0.8m for the necessary upgrading.
Munster Express 26.10.07
Posted by bps planning consultants - www.buckplanning.ie