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The Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School (INSS) has expressed its frustration over the second discharge this month of wastewater into Dublin Bay, which has seen new bathing bans issued at several popular swimming spots in the capital.

While the latest notice does not apply to the waters inside Dun Laoghaire Harbour, the INSS says it has still had to activate its ‘unclean water procedure’ as Salthill beach, from where it usually operates, and other locations woke up to an ‘orange slick’ on the shoreline this morning (Tuesday 25 June). This slick has since been confirmed by the local authority as an algal bloom "not directly associated" with the wastewater overflow.

The procedure involves alterations to activities, use of small keelboats instead of dinghies if appropriate, and stringent instructor supervision to ensure people are on rather than in the water.

While afloat, all safety boats must carry hand-sanitising wipes, and children must regularly wash their hands. Shore side, extensive hand-washing, sanitising gels and a focus on good hygiene practises minimises the risk as much as possible.

“On this occasion, we have been relatively lucky to still be able to operate within the harbour,” said Glyn Williams, the school’s communications and marketing manager.

“However, it’s not good enough that we find out about this later in the day,” he added, referring to the initial reports of the latest bathing ban last night. “The treatment plant operator knew they were discharging. Why not tell everyone straight away?”

Chief instructor Kenneth Rumball also noted that the summer sailing season for children is only 12 weeks long, and with the current water notices lasting until at least this Thursday “we now have six days of a short summer lost to this”.

Responding to Irish Water’s claim that the latest overflow ‘happened as it should have happened’, the school said this cuts little ice with the parents of children attending the its courses.

“Parents are equally as exasperated as we are. While all those we spoke with earlier this morning are understanding, they equally feel that Irish Water/the treatment plant operator should get this solved more quickly than they are currently doing.”

Following similar calls by the likes of Green Party Councillor Ossian Smyth, the INSS is urging those with responsibility to immediately progress upgrades for the sewage system at Ringsend Treatment Plant to cope with heavy rainfall — something Irish Water says would require a “huge amount” of investment.

The school also calls for more transparent communication, in real time, if and when discharges are occurring, coupled with pre-emptive warnings and same-day water sampling results.

Commenting on how these water quality issues affect the development of Dun Laoghaire Harbour as a marine leisure destination, Glyn Williams said: “We have to make sure that we get the basics in place before we undertake large scale plans.

“There’s no point in expending time and money when the most basic requirement for water sports is not in place: safe water to operate in.”

Published in INSS

Heavy rains in recent days have led to another wastewater overflow at the Ringsend treatment plant, as well as other pumping stations, that has prompted a new swimming ban at several Dublin Bay beaches.

It marks the second time this month that bathing has been prohibited at Dollymount Strand, Seapoint, Sandycove and the Forty Foot at Sandycove.

Both Dublin City and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown councils say their bans will remain in place pending test for water quality, the first results of which are due on Thursday — in a week where Met Éireann forecasts higher temperatures.

While the bans do not affect Dun Laoghaire Harbour or other beaches in either council area, organisers of water-based sporting events have been advised to take note, as The Irish Times reports.

Notices will be put up on beaches today, Tuesday 25 June, according to RTÉ News.

Update 4.30pm: Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council says tests on an ‘orange slick’ at Sandycove Beach confirm the presence of Noctiluca scintillans, a form of algae, and not raw sewage.

In a statement, the council said the non-toxic species is “a natural summer phenomenon in response to long day length, high nutrients and warm water” and is “not directly associated with the waste water overflows associated with the temporary bathing prohibition”.

 

Published in Sea Swim

Dublin local authorities have issued bathing ban notices for a number of popular swimming spots after a sewage leak at the Ringsend wastewater treatment plant, as RTÉ News reports.

Swimming is currently prohibited along the coast between Dollymount in North Dublin and White Rock Beach in Killiney on the Southside, just beyond Dublin Bay.

The string of bathing spots includes the enduringly popular Forty Foot in Sandycove.

Moreover, Sandymount and Merrion just south of Ringsend — where the wastewater plant was in the news earlier this year over a discharge in the Liffey — have been landed with a swimming ban for the entire 2019 bathing season due to their overall poor water quality.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Forty Foot Swimming

Almost 30 sewage schemes across Ireland fall short of EU directives on wastewater treatment, as The Green News reports.

The European Court of Justice ruling from this past Thursday 28 March now means Ireland could be liable to significant fines if the problem schemes are not addressed.

Among the court’s findings were that Cork city’s strained wastewater treatment scheme was subject to more than 800 spillages of untreated sewage in 2015 alone.

Sensitive areas in Killarney, Longford, Dundalk and Tralee, among others, were also affected by untreated wastewater discharges for which the State has been reprimanded by European judges.

In addition, the State as found guilty of failing to provide for secondary treatment at a number of problem sites including Cobh in Cork Harbour, the fishing harbours of Arklow and Killybegs, and Ringsend in Dublin — the latter of which was the scene of a discharge of ‘activated sludge’ only a month ago.

The Department of Housing and Local Government says it has provided Irish Water “with the necessary resources to both tackle the deficiencies identified by the [ECJ] as well as providing the infrastructure which will underpin the future sustainable development of our country.”

Part of the State’s defence in this case were occasions of ‘unusually heavy rainfall’ that overwhelmed the country’s wastewater management systems.

Such conditions are also linked to the leeching of nitrates and phosphates from agricultural sites causing seaweed blooms in coastal areas, as highlighted by a recent academic report.

The news also comes after oral hearings began into a long-planned €500 million wastewater treatment scheme for North Dublin that faces strong local oppositions.

The Green News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

Planners are from today set to review proposals for a controversial €500 million wastewater treatment scheme in North Dublin, as The Irish Times reports.

Clonshaugh near Dublin Airport was chosen in June 2013 as the site for the sewage ‘super plant’ before Irish Water took over the Greater Dublin Drainage project from Fingal County Council last year.

The new plant — second only to the Ringsend wastewater facility in scope — would be connected to a new orbital sewer to Blanchardstown, and an outfall pipe to eject treated wastewater in the sea north of Ireland’s Eye.

Plans for the new sewage processing plant have faced strong local opposition, both from residents adjacent to the Clonshaugh site and connected works and marine professionals concerned about potential environmental risks.

Last October, Howth-based ferryman Ken Doyle expressed his fears of the knock-on effect on fish stocks from any accidental contamination of the local waters from the outfall pipe.

The planning hearing began at The Gresham hotel in Dublin this morning, and The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#MarineWildlife - A Howth-based ferryman fears for marine wildlife on and around Ireland’s Eye when a planned sewage outfall pipe begins discharging wastewater in the area.

Ken Doyle of Ireland’s Eye Ferries tells Dublin Live that any accidental contamination of the waters from the pipeline, from Clonshaugh to a mile off the small island immediately north of Howth, could have a disastrous knock-on effect on fish stocks — an issue both for sea anglers and local bird and seal colonies.

Five years ago, Clonshaugh in North Co Dublin was chosen as the location for the capital’s wastewater treatment ‘super plant’.

The scheme will connect a 26km orbital sewer through counties Dublin, Kildare and Meath with an outfall pipeline ejecting waste off Ireland’s Eye.

Doyle noted that when the outflow of raw sewage at Howth Head was ended with the opening of the Ringsend treatment plant, improvements in water quality meant “the bird population increased hugely and it’s all positive but I wouldn’t like it to go back to like it was.”

He adds that he is not opposed to the wastewater scheme in principle — only that he and other local residents and businesses want assurances that the plant will not have any negative impact on the environment.

Dublin Live has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Pollution - Cork Harbour, Ringsend in Dublin and more than 40 other Irish riverside or coastal towns and cities in still fail to meet EU sewage standards, according to a damning new EPA report.

RTÉ News has details of the environmental agency’s 2015 Urban Waste Water Treatment Report, which identifies 43 urban areas — 29 of them classed as large towns or cities – that continue to release raw sewage into the sea and rivers across Ireland.

A number of these locations have seen their timetable for tackling such discharges slip by almost two years due to lack of sufficient capital investment, which the EPA decries as “unacceptable”.

In locations such as Youghal and Merrion Strand, the release of untreated waste has been linked to a significant lowering of bathing water quality.

The news is little different from almost three years ago, when the EPA identified the likes of Killybegs in Co Donegal and Cork Harbour as black spots for untreated wastewater.

More recently, Housing Minister Simon Coveney promised that the problem of discharges from a number of communities around Cork Harbour would be solved within the next 18 months, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in News Update
Tagged under

#CorkHarbour - Some 35,000 wheelie bins’ worth of raw sewage is being discharged into Cork Harbour every day, Housing Minister Simon Coveney has told the Dáil.

But as The Irish Times reports, the minister has promised that the problem will be fixed within the next 18 months by Irish Water as part of a €100 million wastewater scheme for the region.

More than three years ago, Afloat.ie reported that untreated waste was flowing into open water from communities around Cork Harbour as they awaited new sewage facilities.

Crosshaven, Carrigaline, Ringaskiddy, Passage West and Cobh were cited among those towns and areas that continue to discharge raw sewage through a number of outflows into the harbour.

“There is a lot to do here,” said Minister Coveney in reference to Cork Harbour as well as other group water schemes throughout the country, which have a funding package signed off by all relevant bodies.

Responding to Dáil questions regarding the financing of Irish Water’s capital programme, the minister said the Government was committed to keeping Irish Water as a single national and publicly owned utility that “can achieve many of the more national strategic goals that need to be attained around water that individual local authorities on their own could not do.”

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Cork Harbour

#CoastalNotes - Seven large urban coastal areas are among more than 40 towns nationwide still seeing untreated sewage released into the water supply, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns.

According to RTÉ News, the EPA says the current situation is in breach of an EU directive issued more than two decades ago.

Yet three large towns – Killybegs in Co Donegal, Ringaskiddy on Cork Harbour and Arklow in Co Wicklow - have been waiting some 13 years for secondary wastewater treatment facilities.

Moreover, it's been found that nearly a third of established secondary treatment plants nationwide do not meet the EU's main effluent standards, prompting serious pollution concerns.

Clifden in Co Galway and the Co Cork towns of Youghal, Cobh and Passage West have also been identified among the bigger urban areas still discharging untreated wastewater into coastal waters.

The news comes just weeks after it was discovered that effluent from an entire town in Co Galway is being piped into a Special Area of Conservation.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Turlough - TheJournal.ie reports that waste water from a whole town in Co Galway is being piped into a Special Area of Conservation.

According to an investigation by Ireland's national trust An Taisce, sewage from the town of Glenamaddy, home to some 700 residents in the north-east of the county, is being discharged in a local turlough - a lake that appears and disappears as the water table rises and falls - from which is has contaminated a nearby spring.

An Taisce described the town's present sewage unit as "primitive" and said: "It has been a subject of internal discussions within various public authorities for the best part of at least 20 years, yet the hazard continues to this day.”

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways
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The Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's fourth 'Blue Light' service (along with An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service). It provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is to promote safety and security standards, and by doing so, prevent as far as possible, the loss of life at sea, and on inland waters, mountains and caves, and to provide effective emergency response services and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The Irish Coast Guard has responsibility for Ireland's system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways.

It is responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue and counter-pollution and ship casualty operations. It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Operations in respect of maritime security, illegal drug trafficking, illegal migration and fisheries enforcement are co-ordinated by other bodies within the Irish Government.

On average, each year, the Irish Coast Guard is expected to:

  • handle 3,000 marine emergencies
  • assist 4,500 people and save about 200 lives
  • task Coast Guard helicopters on missions

The Coast Guard has been around in some form in Ireland since 1908.

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard has contracted five medium-lift Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters deployed at bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo.

The helicopters are designated wheels up from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night. One aircraft is fitted and its crew trained for under slung cargo operations up to 3000kgs and is available on short notice based at Waterford.

These aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains of Ireland (32 counties).

They can also be used for assistance in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and aerial surveillance during daylight hours, lifting and passenger operations and other operations as authorised by the Coast Guard within appropriate regulations.

Irish Coastguard FAQs

The Irish Coast Guard provides nationwide maritime emergency response, while also promoting safety and security standards. It aims to prevent the loss of life at sea, on inland waters, on mountains and in caves; and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The main role of the Irish Coast Guard is to rescue people from danger at sea or on land, to organise immediate medical transport and to assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction. It has three marine rescue centres in Dublin, Malin Head, Co Donegal, and Valentia Island, Co Kerry. The Dublin National Maritime Operations centre provides marine search and rescue responses and coordinates the response to marine casualty incidents with the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Yes, effectively, it is the fourth "blue light" service. The Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for the coastal area between Ballycotton, Co Cork and Clifden, Co Galway. At the same time, the MRSC Malin Head covers the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle. Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Dublin covers Carlingford Lough, Co Louth to Ballycotton, Co Cork. Each MRCC/MRSC also broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and MF radio, including navigational and gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings.

The Irish Coast Guard handles about 3,000 marine emergencies annually, and assists 4,500 people - saving an estimated 200 lives, according to the Department of Transport. In 2016, Irish Coast Guard helicopters completed 1,000 missions in a single year for the first time.

Yes, Irish Coast Guard helicopters evacuate medical patients from offshore islands to hospital on average about 100 times a year. In September 2017, the Department of Health announced that search and rescue pilots who work 24-hour duties would not be expected to perform any inter-hospital patient transfers. The Air Corps flies the Emergency Aeromedical Service, established in 2012 and using an AW139 twin-engine helicopter. Known by its call sign "Air Corps 112", it airlifted its 3,000th patient in autumn 2020.

The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is responsible for the Northern Irish coast.

The Irish Coast Guard is a State-funded service, with both paid management personnel and volunteers, and is under the auspices of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It is allocated approximately 74 million euro annually in funding, some 85 per cent of which pays for a helicopter contract that costs 60 million euro annually. The overall funding figure is "variable", an Oireachtas committee was told in 2019. Other significant expenditure items include volunteer training exercises, equipment, maintenance, renewal, and information technology.

The Irish Coast Guard has four search and rescue helicopter bases at Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo, run on a contract worth 50 million euro annually with an additional 10 million euro in costs by CHC Ireland. It provides five medium-lift Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and trained crew. The 44 Irish Coast Guard coastal units with 1,000 volunteers are classed as onshore search units, with 23 of the 44 units having rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and 17 units having cliff rescue capability. The Irish Coast Guard has 60 buildings in total around the coast, and units have search vehicles fitted with blue lights, all-terrain vehicles or quads, first aid equipment, generators and area lighting, search equipment, marine radios, pyrotechnics and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Community Rescue Boats Ireland also provide lifeboats and crews to assist in search and rescue. The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the Garda Siochána, National Ambulance Service, Naval Service and Air Corps, Civil Defence, while fishing vessels, ships and other craft at sea offer assistance in search operations.

The helicopters are designated as airborne from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours, and 45 minutes at night. The aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains and cover the 32 counties. They can also assist in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and can transport offshore firefighters and ambulance teams. The Irish Coast Guard volunteers units are expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time of departing from the station house in ten minutes from notification during daylight and 20 minutes at night. They are also expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time to the scene of the incident in less than 60 minutes from notification by day and 75 minutes at night, subject to geographical limitations.

Units are managed by an officer-in-charge (three stripes on the uniform) and a deputy officer in charge (two stripes). Each team is trained in search skills, first aid, setting up helicopter landing sites and a range of maritime skills, while certain units are also trained in cliff rescue.

Volunteers receive an allowance for time spent on exercises and call-outs. What is the difference between the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI? The RNLI is a registered charity which has been saving lives at sea since 1824, and runs a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service around the British and Irish coasts. It is a declared asset of the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and the Irish Coast Guard. Community Rescue Boats Ireland is a community rescue network of volunteers under the auspices of Water Safety Ireland.

No, it does not charge for rescue and nor do the RNLI or Community Rescue Boats Ireland.

The marine rescue centres maintain 19 VHF voice and DSC radio sites around the Irish coastline and a digital paging system. There are two VHF repeater test sites, four MF radio sites and two NAVTEX transmitter sites. Does Ireland have a national search and rescue plan? The first national search and rescue plan was published in July, 2019. It establishes the national framework for the overall development, deployment and improvement of search and rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue Region and to meet domestic and international commitments. The purpose of the national search and rescue plan is to promote a planned and nationally coordinated search and rescue response to persons in distress at sea, in the air or on land.

Yes, the Irish Coast Guard is responsible for responding to spills of oil and other hazardous substances with the Irish pollution responsibility zone, along with providing an effective response to marine casualties and monitoring or intervening in marine salvage operations. It provides and maintains a 24-hour marine pollution notification at the three marine rescue centres. It coordinates exercises and tests of national and local pollution response plans.

The first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die on duty was Caitriona Lucas, a highly trained member of the Doolin Coast Guard unit, while assisting in a search for a missing man by the Kilkee unit in September 2016. Six months later, four Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew – Dara Fitzpatrick, Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith -died when their Sikorsky S-92 struck Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14, 2017. The Dublin-based Rescue 116 crew were providing "top cover" or communications for a medical emergency off the west coast and had been approaching Blacksod to refuel. Up until the five fatalities, the Irish Coast Guard recorded that more than a million "man hours" had been spent on more than 30,000 rescue missions since 1991.

Several investigations were initiated into each incident. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board was critical of the Irish Coast Guard in its final report into the death of Caitriona Lucas, while a separate Health and Safety Authority investigation has been completed, but not published. The Air Accident Investigation Unit final report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has not yet been published.

The Irish Coast Guard in its present form dates back to 1991, when the Irish Marine Emergency Service was formed after a campaign initiated by Dr Joan McGinley to improve air/sea rescue services on the west Irish coast. Before Irish independence, the British Admiralty was responsible for a Coast Guard (formerly the Water Guard or Preventative Boat Service) dating back to 1809. The West Coast Search and Rescue Action Committee was initiated with a public meeting in Killybegs, Co Donegal, in 1988 and the group was so effective that a Government report was commissioned, which recommended setting up a new division of the Department of the Marine to run the Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC), then based at Shannon, along with the existing coast radio service, and coast and cliff rescue. A medium-range helicopter base was established at Shannon within two years. Initially, the base was served by the Air Corps.

The first director of what was then IMES was Capt Liam Kirwan, who had spent 20 years at sea and latterly worked with the Marine Survey Office. Capt Kirwan transformed a poorly funded voluntary coast and cliff rescue service into a trained network of cliff and sea rescue units – largely voluntary, but with paid management. The MRCC was relocated from Shannon to an IMES headquarters at the then Department of the Marine (now Department of Transport) in Leeson Lane, Dublin. The coast radio stations at Valentia, Co Kerry, and Malin Head, Co Donegal, became marine rescue-sub-centres.

The current director is Chris Reynolds, who has been in place since August 2007 and was formerly with the Naval Service. He has been seconded to the head of mission with the EUCAP Somalia - which has a mandate to enhance Somalia's maritime civilian law enforcement capacity – since January 2019.

  • Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford
  • Arklow, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
  • Ballycotton, Co. Cork
  • Ballyglass, Co. Mayo
  • Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
  • Bunbeg, Co. Donegal
  • Carnsore, Co. Wexford
  • Castlefreake, Co. Cork
  • Castletownbere, Co. Cork
  • Cleggan, Co. Galway
  • Clogherhead, Co. Louth
  • Costelloe Bay, Co. Galway
  • Courtown, Co. Wexford
  • Crosshaven, Co. Cork
  • Curracloe, Co. Wexford
  • Dingle, Co. Kerry
  • Doolin, Co. Clare
  • Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
  • Fethard, Co. Wexford
  • Glandore, Co. Cork
  • Glenderry, Co. Kerry
  • Goleen, Co. Cork
  • Greencastle, Co. Donegal
  • Greenore, Co. Louth
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Guileen, Co. Cork
  • Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Kilkee, Co. Clare
  • Killala, Co. Mayo
  • Killybegs, Co. Donegal
  • Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
  • Knightstown, Co. Kerry
  • Mulroy, Co. Donegal
  • North Aran, Co. Galway
  • Old Head Of Kinsale, Co. Cork
  • Oysterhaven, Co. Cork
  • Rosslare, Co. Wexford
  • Seven Heads, Co. Cork
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin Summercove, Co. Cork
  • Toe Head, Co. Cork
  • Tory Island, Co. Donegal
  • Tramore, Co. Waterford
  • Waterville, Co. Kerry
  • Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Wicklow
  • Youghal, Co. Cork

Sources: Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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