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Galway City Struggling to Cope with Untreated Waste Water

3rd February 2021
River Corrib, Galway, Ireland

Galway city is struggling to cope with the volume of untreated wastewater released into the Corrib estuary and bay, a new report claims.

As The Times reports, a study by An Taisce estimates untreated water amounting to 30 Olympic size swimming pools in volume every month is being discharged into the Corrib and Galway Bay.

The environmental group’s study says that the Mutton island wastewater treatment plant does not have sufficient capacity to treat wastewater.

The Mutton island plant is currently handling wastewater from Galway city, Oranmore to the south-east and Barna to the west – at a time when the city‘s population is projected for rapid growth.

Local authorities are licensed to use “stormwater overflows” when a sewage treatment plant such as Galway’s Mutton Island is over capacity after heavy rain.

However, An Taisce says its analysis suggests discharges are taking place more regularly than during heavy rainfall.

The environmental group analysed four pollution reports filed by the Claddagh Beach Clean-Up Volunteer Group co-founded by musician Sharon Shannon.

It then compared the dates to rainfall data at the nearest Met Éireann weather station in Athenry, Co Galway, and found that recorded rainfall for the four dates was not unusual.

The report by An Taisce’s head of advocacy Ian Lumley also analysed contamination of three beaches in Galway city which do not have Blue Flag status – Claddagh, Grattan and Ballyloughane beaches.

An Taisce says that a new wastewater treatment plant must be built for the east of the city which would also cater Oranmore and Athenry.

Irish Water said it “is working in partnership with Galway City Council to review the findings of a report issued by An Taisce” and “a full statement will be issued in the coming days”.

Irish Water said it is “committed to ensuring our customers receive a safe and reliable supply of drinking water, and have their wastewater collected and safely returned to the environment”.

Read more in The Times here

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

Email The Author

Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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Galway Port & Harbour

Galway Bay is a large bay on the west coast of Ireland, between County Galway in the province of Connacht to the north and the Burren in County Clare in the province of Munster to the south. Galway city and port is located on the northeast side of the bay. The bay is about 50 kilometres (31 miles) long and from 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) to 30 kilometres (19 miles) in breadth.

The Aran Islands are to the west across the entrance and there are numerous small islands within the bay.

Galway Port FAQs

Galway was founded in the 13th century by the de Burgo family, and became an important seaport with sailing ships bearing wine imports and exports of fish, hides and wool.

Not as old as previously thought. Galway bay was once a series of lagoons, known as Loch Lurgan, plied by people in log canoes. Ancient tree stumps exposed by storms in 2010 have been dated back about 7,500 years.

It is about 660,000 tonnes as it is a tidal port.

Capt Brian Sheridan, who succeeded his late father, Capt Frank Sheridan

The dock gates open approximately two hours before high water and close at high water subject to ship movements on each tide.

The typical ship sizes are in the region of 4,000 to 6,000 tonnes

Turbines for about 14 wind projects have been imported in recent years, but the tonnage of these cargoes is light. A European industry report calculates that each turbine generates €10 million in locally generated revenue during construction and logistics/transport.

Yes, Iceland has selected Galway as European landing location for international telecommunications cables. Farice, a company wholly owned by the Icelandic Government, currently owns and operates two submarine cables linking Iceland to Northern Europe.

It is "very much a live project", Harbourmaster Capt Sheridan says, and the Port of Galway board is "awaiting the outcome of a Bord Pleanála determination", he says.

90% of the scrap steel is exported to Spain with the balance being shipped to Portugal. Since the pandemic, scrap steel is shipped to the Liverpool where it is either transhipped to larger ships bound for China.

It might look like silage, but in fact, its bales domestic and municipal waste, exported to Denmark where the waste is incinerated, and the heat is used in district heating of homes and schools. It is called RDF or Refuse Derived Fuel and has been exported out of Galway since 2013.

The new ferry is arriving at Galway Bay onboard the cargo ship SVENJA. The vessel is currently on passage to Belem, Brazil before making her way across the Atlantic to Galway.

Two Volvo round world races have selected Galway for the prestigious yacht race route. Some 10,000 people welcomed the boats in during its first stopover in 2009, when a festival was marked by stunning weather. It was also selected for the race finish in 2012. The Volvo has changed its name and is now known as the "Ocean Race". Capt Sheridan says that once port expansion and the re-urbanisation of the docklands is complete, the port will welcome the "ocean race, Clipper race, Tall Ships race, Small Ships Regatta and maybe the America's Cup right into the city centre...".

The pandemic was the reason why Seafest did not go ahead in Cork in 2020. Galway will welcome Seafest back after it calls to Waterford and Limerick, thus having been to all the Port cities.

© Afloat 2020

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