The Environmental Protection Agency has listed areas throughout counties Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal where it says the treatment of discharged sewerage is not adequate or up to EU standards.
This EPA report, issued today, is in relation to the treatment in urban areas of wastewater, or sewage, as distinct from the quality of the supply of water to homes and businesses.
But untreated or inadequately treated sewage can cause pollution to sources of drinking water, such as rivers, streams and lakes.
In its report today for 2018, the EPA says that in Sligo, wastewater treatment at Tubbercurry did not meet EU standards.
It also says that wastewater released from the town is the sole threat to a local river at risk of pollution.
Among 120 urban areas where the EPA says improvements are needed are Kilcar and Ballintra in Donegal; Collooney, Grange and Tubbecurry in Sligo; and Mohill in Leitrim.
In Donegal, there are 21 urban areas where wastewater treatment did not meet EU standards.
Throughout the country, 36 towns and villages are releasing raw sewage into the environment every day.
Andy Fanning, from the EPA, says Irish Water needs to do more to address the country’s waste water treatment infrastructure.
He says Cork and Dublin city are the main culprits.
Irish Water has welcomed the report and says it’s making an “unprecedented” investment in treating waste water.
It plans to spend some 400 million euro building treatment plants next year – up from 240 million euro last year.
Seán Laffey, head of asset management at the utility, says it’s making good progress:
Minister Eoghan Murphy believes urgent investment is needed to tackle the problem: