Plans to transform Kilkenny water treatment sites into regional ‘Sludge-Hubs’
By COLIN BARTLEY
IRISH Water is considering controversial plans to use Kilkenny plants as a regional centre to treat waste-water sludge.
The State company warned that the amount of sludge created in the treatment process is set to double over the next 20 years. It is now seeking suitable sites to deal with the problem – and these include water treatment plants in Kilkenny city and county.
Wastewater sludge is what remains after treated water has been discharged into our rivers and seas. It is made up mainly of energy-rich organic matter that has been removed during the treatment process.
Irish Water is launching a public consultation process to discuss possible sites with local communities between now and October 29.
The National Wastewater Sludge Management Plan 2016 set out a nationwide strategy for managing wastewater sludge for the next 25 years. One of its recommendations was to develop a number of existing sludge treatment facilities into regional ‘Sludge Hubs’. The plants identified were in Kilkenny, Wexford, Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Limerick and Tipperary.
Irish Water Infrastructure Programme Manager Paul Fallon said: “Since 2014, Irish Water has been building and upgrading wastewater treatment plants nationwide and developing ways of reducing sludge volumes to achieve the best balance between the cost of transport and the cost of treatment.
“The National Wastewater Sludge Management Plan estimates that by 2040 around 50,000 truck-loads of sludge will be generated each year, which represents an 80% increase.
“Irish Water is planning for now and the future so that sludge can be treated and disposed of safely and in a way that does not pose a risk to public health, the environment or agricultural lands by increasing the capacity of sludge management facilities.
“The development of regional Sludge Hubs Centres is key to ensure that, as a country, we can manage the increasing volumes of sludge we produce.”