EPA issues waste water discharge licence for Greater Dublin Area Agglomeration

Date released: Jul 28 2010

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a waste water discharge licence for the Greater Dublin Area Agglomeration in accordance with the Waste Water Discharge (Authorisation) Regulations, 2007. The Agglomeration is served by one Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) at Ringsend.

The licence has been issued to Dublin City Council (lead authority) and the joint applicants Fingal County Council, South Dublin County Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and Meath County Council.

The licence contains more than 66 individual conditions and schedules relating to the environmental management, operation, control and monitoring of discharges to water from the Agglomeration.  The licence conditions require that:

  • The Licensee upgrades the waste water treatment plant at Ringsend by December 2015.
  • The Licensee discontinues two secondary discharges to the Irish Sea, at Doldrum Bay and the Nose of Howth, within timeframes specified in the licence.
  • The Licensee assesses storm water overflows within the Agglomeration and prioritises the most significant for improvement works.
  • The Licensee submits an Annual Environmental Report which will be available to the public and will include a summary of emissions, monitoring data and updates on both the waste water treatment plant and storm water overflow upgrades.
  • The Licensee monitors the primary discharge and also undertakes ambient monitoring, including marine, shore, biological and chemical monitoring.

The EPA considers that, having regard to the requirements in the licence: 

  1.  for a phased and strictly monitored programme of improvements for the waste water works servicing the Greater Dublin Area Agglomeration, and 
     that no deterioration in the quality of the receiving water shall occur as a result of the discharges,
  2. the licence will aim to achieve the environmental objectives, including environmental quality standards, established under statute and prevent and reduce environmental pollution.  

The Licensee will be responsible for the control and management of waste water discharges from the Agglomeration. The EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE) will monitor and enforce the licence through environmental audits, unannounced site visits and systematic checks on discharges.

Further information: EPA Press Office, Emily Williamson/Annette Cahalane, 053-9170770

Notes to Editor:

Greater Dublin Area Agglomeration:

The Greater Dublin Area Agglomeration includes all of the geographical area of Dublin City Council and parts of Fingal County Council area, South Dublin County Council area, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council area and Meath County Council area. 

The Agglomeration is the largest in Ireland with a current load of approximately 1.79 million population equivalent (measure of effluent load received at a municipal waste water treatment plant). The Licensee predicts the agglomeration to have a load of approximately 2.2 million population equivalent by 2025.

Treatment Processes:

Wastewater arriving at the wastewater treatment plant at Ringsend is subjected to the following treatments prior to discharge to the Lower Liffey Estuary.

  • Preliminary treatment is screening of the wastewater and grit removal.
  • Primary treatment is settlement of the wastewater and sludge removal.
  • Secondary treatment involves aeration of the wastewater in sequence batch reactors; and
  • Disinfection of the wastewater discharge by ultraviolet (UV) treatment during the bathing season (1st May to the 31st August)

The Licence Application:

  • The Licence Application, Register Number D0034-01, was submitted to the EPA by Dublin City Council, as lead authority, on behalf of itself and the other Water Services Authorities within the Agglomeration. 
  • The EPA received the Licence Application on 14th December 2007. The EPA sought further information from the Applicant. Such further information was submitted to the EPA by Dublin City Council. The EPA confirmed that the Application was considered complete on the 15th June 2010.
  • The Board of the EPA has considered this Application and supporting documentation, including further documentation received from the Applicant, 4 valid submissions received from other parties and the reports of its Inspector.

How the licensing process works:

  • Given the complexity and scale of Agglomerations, the EPA provides pre-application clarification and consultation so that Applications are as complete as possible.
  • Once received, experts from the Office of Climate, Licensing and Resource Use rigorously assess the Application.
  • Extra information may be required from the Applicant during the assessment.
  • When the Application is deemed complete, and has been fully assessed, the Office of Climate, Licensing and Resource Use makes a recommendation on the Application to the Board of Directors of the EPA.
  • The Board assesses the recommendation together with the Application and all submissions, before making a Final Decision.
  • The Board’s Final Decision (FD) is notified to the Applicant, all third parties who made a submission on the application and other relevant statutory bodies/agencies.
  • The EPA is debarred in law from granting a Licence for a waste water discharge that in the opinion of the EPA will cause a deterioration in the chemical status or ecological status in the receiving body of surface water; cause a deterioration in the chemical status in the receiving body of groundwater; or exclude or compromise the achievement of the objectives established for protected species and natural habitats in the case of European sites.

A 28 day period during which a judicial review can be sought has now commenced.

All related documentation is available for download on the EPA’s Website.

Chronology of Application for Greater Dublin Area Agglomeration waste water discharge licence (Reg. No. D0034-01):

Lead Applicant:  Dublin City Council
Joint Applicants: Fingal County Council; South Dublin County Council; Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and Meath County Council.
Application received:  14th December 2007
Submissions:  A total of 4 valid submissions were received from third parties
Final decision issued:    27th July 2010