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  1. A new study from the University of Maryland has found that drug-resistant bacteria have been found in sewage treatment plants.

    The findings show that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is present at two water treatment works in the Midwest and two facilities in the mid-Atlantic region.

    "Our findings raise potential public health concerns for wastewater treatment plant workers and individuals exposed to reclaimed wastewater,"  In a statement, study researcher Rachel Rosenberg Goldstein, a doctoral student in environmental health at the University of Maryland's School of Public Health, said. "Because of increasing use of reclaimed wastewater, further research is needed to evaluate the risk of exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria in treated wastewater."

    MRSA is of particular importance for the public health because it is resistant to the usual antibiotics that are used to fight staph. It is a big problem in hospitals.

    The study included samples from four different sewage treatment plants. MRSA was found in half of all the samples gathered, while MSSA (methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus) was found in 55 percent of all the samples gathered. MRSA was found in 83 percent of the raw sewage, but researchers noted that as the water went through the treatment process, fewer samples had MRSA.

    By the end of the treatment process, only one of four plants had a sample with MRSA, though researchers noted that this particular plant is known to not chlorinate its water regularly -- a step known as "tertiary treatment."

    Researchers were also able to glimpse a snapshot of the kinds of MRSA and MSSA that were in the wastewater facilities -- 93 percent of the MRSA strains identified are resistant to at least two antibiotic classes, as were 29 percent of the MSSA strains.

  2. THE IRISH GOVERNMENT has been asked to implement grant aid to cover the  cost of septic tank repairs and replacements, following the introduction of the septic tank inspection scheme next year.

    The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) made the statement in yesterdays pre-budget submission.

    ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin said rural dwellers must be treated the same as city dwellers “and this is the only way that can be achieved”.

    The submission points out that all urban households have full sewage treatment and disposal costs paid for “and recent evidence suggests that the cost per house in urban housing developments is actually more than the potential cost of a 100 per cent grant for rural households to upgrade septic tanks”.

    The septic tank registration scheme started in June, promoted by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan . A reduced €5 registration fee was available until the end of September but fewer than 40 per cent of septic tank owners availed of the lower rate. The fee is now €50.

  3. Septic tank fumes may have caused the deaths of a father and his two sons in a farming accident in Co Down last night.

    The victims have been named as 22-year-old Nevin Spence, who played rugby for Ulster, his 30-year-old brother Graham and their 52-year-old father Noel.

    A daughter, Emma, was rescued at the scene and is being treated at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital.

    Emergency crews went to the family farm in Drumlough Road outside Hillsborough in Co Down shortly after 6pm yesterday following reports that four people had fallen into the tank.

    According to John McPoland of the Northern Ireland Ambulance service, the tank where the accident occurred was not much more than 1.2m deep.

    It is thought that they were trying to rescue their dog when they were overcome by the septic gases.

    Our thoughts are with the family.

  4. The Harare Residents Trust (HRT) has revealed that dumped babies are blocking the inlet pipe at the Firle sewage treatment plant in Harare, Zimbabwe.

    Simbarashe Majamanda, the HRT Membership Officer compiled the report following a site visit by the public awareness steering committee on water management in Harare last year.  He  said: “Baby dumping is a common problem that results in blockages. Many dead babies are removed from the inlet works on a daily basis.”

  5. Once again, Council Planners ruin someone's life.

    A phonecall from a man who has bought a barn for conversion with Full Planning Permission. The plot of land that goes with it is too small for a soakway or installation of a cesspit and there are no watercourses or land drains to discharge into either - NO possibility of any sanitation!!!

    This man has paid over £200,000 for a barn - and that is all it will ever be.

    When will Planners realise that you CANNOT reserve foul drainage to be sorted out at a later date, as sometimes it can't be sorted at all.

  6. 46%  of Ireland’s urban wastewater treatment plants are failing to achieve the standards required by the EU and Ireland itself, according to a new report released today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    Commenting on the report Mr. Gerard O’Leary, Programme Manager, in the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said:

    “This level of performance is poor and needs to improve. In order to meet EU targets further investment in infrastructure is required and we need a step change in the operation and maintenance of these valuable assets.”

    This report, the eighth in the series, is the first review of the operation of waste water treatment plants at 529 urban areas since they became subject to a new licensing regime being rolled out by the EPA. The main findings are as follows:

    1. 46% of waste water treatment plants did not meet all waste water quality standards or EPA guidelines.
    2. Eleven large urban areas do not meet the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD) requirement to have secondary treatment in place (Table 1). These include, for example, Bray and Ringaskiddy where the provision of treatment is now ten years overdue; Clifden, where the old plant is impacting on bathing water; and Moville where discharges are causing serious pollution to the River Bredagh.
    3. Eight urban areas do not meet the UWWTD requirement to provide nutrient reduction in addition to secondary treatment for discharges to sensitive water areas by specified dates (Table 2). Because these relate to more sensitive environments a higher level of treatment is required – in these cases, nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen have to be removed. Areas affected include the cities of Cork, Dublin and Kilkenny.
    4. The EPA expects that by 2015 the necessary treatment will be in place for the large urban centres – work to be completed by the relevant local authorities.

      Commenting on the Report, Dara Lynott, Director, Office of Environmental Enforcement said:
    “Meeting our EU targets will require substantial and sustained investment. However, the benefits of such investment extend beyond water quality, as clean water is a pre-requisite for our tourism, food, agriculture and manufacturing industries.”

    Since the last report, there has been significant improvement in the monitoring of waste water treatment plants. In 2007, 112 plants did not take sufficient samples; this figure has reduced to 38 in the current report.

    “We are pleased to see this increase in monitoring – that was an area we highlighted in the last report. The issues we are highlighting today, in particular, operation and maintenance, now need to be prioritised in the coming years,” Dara Lynott concluded.

    Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive: The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (91/271/EEC) has requirements for sewerage systems (or waste water collection systems) to be provided and sets deadlines for the provision of sewage treatment. The main requirements of the UWWTD are as follows:

    • Scheduled provision of waste water collecting systems and treatment plants based on the size of the agglomeration and the type of water body to which the waste water is discharged (freshwater, estuarine or coastal, sensitive or non-sensitive).
    • Monitoring by water services authorities (including frequency of monitoring) of discharges from waste water treatment plants.

    In Ireland the Urban Waste Water Treatment Regulations, 2001 (S.I. No. 254 of 2001), as amended, give effect to the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (91/271/EEC).

    The EU urban waste water treatment Directive requires compliance with waste water quality standards and typically, twelve samples per year are required from each plant. Each sample must comply with individual quality standards set for three parameters BOD, COD and SS. There are additional requirements for discharges to nutrient sensitive waters.

    EU Water Framework Directive: the WFD requires member states to take a holistic approach to managing their water resources. It applies to rivers, lakes, groundwater, estuaries and coastal waters. Member States must aim to achieve good status in all waters by 2015 and must ensure that status does not deteriorate in any waters.

    The Waste Water Discharge (Authorisation) Regulations 2007 introduced a licensing system for urban waste water discharges to drive improvements in water quality in Ireland. The EPA has received 529 licence applications and 515 applications for certificates of authorisation. To date it has granted 190 licences and 512 certificates.

    The Urban Waste Water Treatment report is available on the EPA website.

    Table 1: Urban areas with secondary treatment required by the UWWTD but not yet in operation

    Water Services Authority


    Date secondary treatment required

    Estimated completion date
    Fingal Lusk 2005 mid 2012 connection to Portrane
    Cork Skibbereen 2005 end 2012
    Wicklow Bray 2000 2012 pipeline to Shanganagh
    Galway Clifden 2005 2013
    Cork Cobh 2005 2014

    Passage West/


    2005 2014




    2000 2014
    Donegal Moville 2005 mid 2014
    Donegal Killybegs 2008 end 2014
    Cork Youghal 2005 end 2015
    Wicklow Arklow 2005 end 2015

    Table 2: Urban areas with secondary treatment with nutrient reduction required by UWWTD

    Water services authorityAgglomeration

    Date secondary treatment with

    nutrient reduction required

    Estimated completion date
    Donegal Killybegs 31 May 2008

    2012 new outfall to eliminate

    discharge to sensitive area

    Kerry Tralee 31 May 2008 end 2012
    Louth Dundalk 31 May 2008 end 2013
    Cork City Cork City 31 May 2008 end 2014
    Cork Carrigtohill 31 May 2008 end 2014
    Wexford Enniscorthy 31 May 2008 mid 2014

    Dublin City, Fingal, South

    Dublin, Dun Laoghaire-

    Rathdown & Meath

    Greater Dublin


    31 May 2008

    2015 proposed new outfall to

    eliminate discharge to

    sensitive area


    Kilkenny City &


    31 May 2008 mid 2015
  7. When will the Environment Agency train their staff properly???

    Another incident today when the E.A. gave out incorrect advice.

    A client, requiring a sewage treatment plant for a cafe was advised to fit a Conder ECO10 person plant by the E.A. The cafe owner rang to order one today, but, whilst trying to ascertain if it was the correct size, we dicovered that the cafe does 150 covers per day. This requires a sewage treatment plant with a minimum size of 75 persons! Imagine if the cafe owner had contacted a builder's Merchant to order one? They would have taken his order without question and he would have bought a plant 1/7th the size required - ON THE E.A.'s ADVICE!!!

    The Environment Agency should only give CORRECT information; the public relies on it.

  8. Today, once again, a telephone call from an architect wanting advice for his client on sewage treatment options for a building plot. There is no mains drainage nearby and - NO POSSIBILITY OF ANY SANITATION AT ALL.

     His client has bought the building plot, with full planning permission but with the foul water system as a reserved matter. The plot is in an Inner Groundwater Source Protection Zone, so no soakaways are allowed. This rules out septic tanks and sewage treatment plants discharging to ground. The plot is too small for a soakaway in any case.

    The plot has no watercourses or surface water drains nearby. This rules out sewage treatment plants discharging to watercourse.

    The only other option is a sealed cesspool that has no outlet. These cost the average family of 4 around £7000/year in emptying charges. The problem is that the cesspool would need to be a minimum 40,000L to conform with Building Regulations and has to be situated a minimum 7M from any building. The plot is too small to fit one in.

    In short, no sanitation is possible for this plot. What a nightmare for the poor owner and his family.

    In our opinion, the planning laws should be changed. Foul drainage should NEVER be a reserved matter as without sanitation a house is just a shed. Purchasers buy building plots with Full Planning thinking that all aspects of the build have been approved - and they should have been. This poor man now has a mortgage on a piece of land that is useless. Our hearts go out to him, his partner and their unborn baby.

    Never buy a Building Plot without full foul drainage system plans and approvals. Your new plot may well be WORTHLESS if you do.