Waste Water Discharge Authorisation
A system for the licensing or certification of waste water discharges (WWD) from areas served by local authority sewer networks was brought into effect by Mr John Gormley, Minster for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government on 27th September 2007. The licensing and certification authorisation process was introduced on a phased basis commencing on 14th December 2007 in accordance with the requirements of the Waste Water Discharge (Authorisation) Regulations, 2007 (S.I. No. 684 of 2007).
Up to this Local Authorities did their own thing.
Applications for WWDA were made on a time scale where the largest WWTPs had to apply earliest.
Licenses must be reviewed within 6 years after being issued but can be reviewed any time after 3 years.
Kildare County Council applied to the Environmental Protection Agency for a Waste Water Discharge Licence for Ballymore Eustace on the 27th February 2009.
When Kildare applied to the Environmental Protection Agency for a Waste Water Discharge Licence (WWDL) in respect of the discharge from Ballymore Eustace Waste Water Treatment Plant into the River Liffey the Ballymore Eustace Trout and Salmon Anglers Association (TSAA) made the following submission to the EPA.
SUBMISSION TO THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
PO Box 3000,
Re: Application by Kildare County Council for a Waste Water Discharge Licence for the Ballymore Eustace Waste Water Treatment Plant discharge into the River Liffey.
(Register No. D0238-01)
The Ballymore Eustace Trout and Salmon Anglers’ Association wishes to make the following submission on Kildare County Council’s application (in accordance with the Waste Water Discharge (Authorisation) Regulations 2007) to the Environmental Protection Agency for a Waste Water Discharge Licence (WWDL) in respect of the discharge from Ballymore Eustace Waste Water Treatment Plant into the River Liffey.
The Association feels that there is something wrong in Kildare County Council applying for a WWDL for a proposed new sewage treatment plant that has not yet been sanctioned by the Department of the Environment. We believe that Kildare County Council should have to apply for a WWDL for the existing overloaded Sewage Treatment Plant at The Strand, Ballymore Eustace. The EPA would have no option but to refuse such a licence and in so doing would highlight Kildare County Council’s negligence for many years in not providing proper sewage treatment facilities in Ballymore Eustace and for allowing raw sewage to pollute the River Liffey upstream of the abstraction point to a large drinking water supply plant at Leixlip. What is the status of the existing discharge if Kildare County Council is not seeking a licence for same? Is it now an illegal discharge in accordance with the Waste Water Discharge (Authorisation) Regulations 2007?
The Association has for over thirty years been asking Kildare County Council to upgrade the existing sewage treatment plant at the Strand, Ballymore Eustace but without any success. The sewage plant regularly discharges raw sewage into the Liffey at Ballymore Eustace Bridge and a sewage fungus has built up downstream of the discharge point. We are therefore hopeful that the Department of the Environment will sanction the construction of the proposed new Waste Water Treatment Plant at the Kimmeens, Ballymore Eustace and put an end to the present disgraceful discharge into the Liffey.
We are concerned however about the combined effects of the Wicklow County Council’s Blessington Waste Water Treatment Plant discharging into Golden Falls Lake just upstream of Ballymore Eustace village and Kildare County Council’s proposed WWTP discharging into the Liffey at Ballymore Eustace. The flow of the River Liffey at Ballymore Eustace is controlled under the terms of the Liffey Reservoir Act 1936 which allows the ESB to release “compensation water” up to 1.5 cubic metres per second when the level in Poulaphouca Reservoir is below “low water level” i.e 581ft O.D. The ESB may, if it suits their purpose, also shut off the flow of the Liffey completely. However, under normal circumstances (i.e. water level in Poulaphouca Reservoir above 581ft O.D.), the ESB releases 1.5 cubic metres of water per second to maintain the flow of the Liffey and when generating electricity at Golden Falls Hydro Electricity Generating Station the ESB releases 30 cubic metres of water per second referred to locally as ‘flood water’. There are therefore, only two flows to the Liffey at Ballymore Eustace, 1.5 m3/sec and 30 m3/sec. For the past three years 2006, 2007 and 2008 the ESB has released a flow of 1.5 m3/sec. for 91.54%, 86.53% and 79.32% of the time respectively, and this includes the two extremely wet years of 2007 and 2008. Dublin City Council are presently constructing a massive upgrade and extension of their Water Treatment Plant at Ballymore Eustace that will allow them to abstract 318 million litres of water per day (70 m.g.d.) from Poulaphouca Reservoir, so it is likely that the percentage times for a release of 1.5 m3/sec to maintain the flow of the Liffey will increase in future years. It is imperative therefore that the assimilative capacity of the Liffey at Ballymore Eustace is based on a flow of 1.5 cubic metres per second.
(Note: On Thursday 9th April 2009 the flow of the Liffey was completely shut off due we were informed by the ESB to a power failure at Poulaphouca Power Station which in turn tripped Golden Falls Power Station. It appears that the valve which discharges the compensation flow to the river closed and could not be reopened by remote control from Turlough Hill. The ESB had to send a staff member to Golden Falls to reopen the valve manually to get the Liffey flowing again. While it is perfectly legitimate under the Liffey Reservoir Act 1936 for the ESB to shut off the flow of the Liffey, how can this be allowed to happen? A ‘fail-safe’ system must be installed as a matter of urgency. To allow anybody to shut off the flow of the Liffey must be unconstitutional and be in breach of the Water Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive)
The Association is totally opposed to the Applicant, on page 24 of the Design Report, using the mean river flow to calculate the assimilative capacity of the Liffey in terms of phosphorus. The Molybdate Reactive Phosphorus (MRP) concentration reported under the Phosphorus Regulations Quality Standards for Rivers, is a median value, not a mean value and the two values can differ significantly. Using the same formula as the Applicant to determine the waste assimilative capacity of the Liffey at Ballymore Eustace using 1.5 m3/sec as the river flow gives the following result.
WAC = (Cmax – Cback) X F95 X 86.4
WAC = Waste Assimilative Capacity (kg/d)
Cmax = Maximum Concentration (mg/l)
Cback =Background Concentration (mg/l)
F95 = 95 Percentile Flow (m3/s)
86.4 = Conversion Constant
WAC = (0.03 – 0.01) x 1.5 x 86.4 kg/d MRP
= 2.59 kg/d MRP
The Association believes that since a MRP concentration of 0.03 mgP/l would only achieve a Biological Quality (Q) Rating / Q Index of 4, (S.I. No.258 of 1998) a more ambitious target, i.e. Q Index 4 – 5, should be the aim. This would lead to the following calculation:
WAC = (0.02 – 0.01) x 1.5 x 86.4 kg/d MRP
= 1.3 kg/d MRP
Examining the Ortho-Phosphate (mgP/l) figures in Wicklow County Council’s Water Analysis of Golden Falls Lake for the first six months of 2007 it appears to the Association that a background MRP concentration of 0.01 mgP/l is too conservative and a more likely figure is 0.015. This would change the above examples of Waste Assimilative Capacity for Phosphorous to 1.94 kg/d and 0.65 kg/d respectively. The Association, therefore believes that the Applicant’s Waste Assimilative Capacity figure of 10 kg/d Total Phosphorus for the River Liffey at Ballymore Eustace is erroneous and dangerously too high. Also, analysis submitted by the Applicant for water samples taken from Ballymore Eustace Upstream of the present Sewage Plant on the 13/11/08 and 23/11/08 show Ortho Phosphate concentrations of 0.05 mgP/l and 0.04 mgP/l respectively, and would lead one to believe that the Waste Assimilative Capacity of the Liffey at Ballymore Eustace has already been used up by Blessington WWTP discharging into Golden Falls Lake.
The Association is also concerned that the concentration of Total Phosphorus in Golden Falls Lake for the first six months of 2007 averaged 0.11 mgP/litre, and is off the radar with regard to the Phosphorus Regulations, Water Standards for Lakes (S.I. No. 258/1998). Also, analysis of samples taken from the River Liffey at Ballymore Eustace Upstream of the present sewage treatment plant discharge point on the 13th and 23rd November 2008 and submitted by the Applicant show Total Phosphorus concentrations of 0.09 mgP/l and 0.07 mgP/l respectively.
Since the beginning of March 2009 (at least) the Liffey at Ballymore Eustace is polluted with an algae growth, which the Association believes is being caused by nutrients from the Blessington WWTP discharge into Golden Falls Lake. While we are hopeful that this scum like algae is not having a detrimental affect on the spawning gravels or aquatic fly life, it is seriously reducing the recreational value of the Liffey and is unacceptable.
The Association respectfully requests the EPA to consider the combined effects the Blessington WWTP and the proposed Ballymore Eustace WWTP will have on the water quality of the River Liffey before issuing a Waste Water Discharge Licence. We also request the EPA to set strict upper limits with regard to Phosphorus discharges from the WWTP. A comprehensive monitoring programme of the WWTP and the Liffey downstream of the discharge point must be put in place. Anglers retrieve lines by hand through the water and often eat sandwiches at the riverside so it is important that Faecal Coliforms and Total Coliforms counts are carried out, and in the interest of health and safety, all results must be made available to the public on a monthly basis via the internet or by some other easily accessible means.
Ballymore Eustace Trout and Salmon Anglers’ Association
22nd April 2009
The Eastern Regional Fisheries Board (ERFB) sent in a submission dated 3rd September 2009.
The EPA on the 30th September 2009 requested Further Information from Kildare County Council and the Council replied dated 28th January 2010. As part of threir reply Kildare County Council stated as follows “(ii) Kildare County Council has submitted an updated Assessment of Needs for “Water Services Investment Programme 2010 – 2012″ to the DoEHLG (on 23/10/09). Included in this assessment is the new WWTP for Ballymore Eustace, which has been identified as a needs priority for some time. The estimated project cost is €2.5m. The scheme is currently being processed under the Serviced Land Initiative Programme and there is recognition of the possibility that this project may need to transfer to the main capital investment projects list having regard to current funding shortfalls.
The EPA granted a WWDL for the Ballymore Eustace Sewage Treatment on February 2011. The Licence specifies that the sewage treatment plant must be operational by 31st December 2012.
Comparison of Discharge Parameters, Proposed New Plant and Old Plant (mg/l)
|Parameter||Proposed new WWTP||Old WWTP (Average 2007-2008)|
|Total Phosphorus (as P)||2||8|
|Ortho Phosphorus (as P)||1||4|
|Ammonia (as N)||5||28|
As can be seen there will be a big inprovement in the discharge quality.
Following the issuing of the WWDL the Ballymore Eustace Trout and Salmon Anglers sent the following letter to various relevant authorities.
Ballymore Eustace Trout and Salmon Anglers’ Association
28th February 2011
Mr. William Walsh,
Inland Fisheries Ireland,
15a Main Street,
Dear Mr. Walsh,
The EPA has issued a Waste Water Discharge Licence dated 17th February 2011 to Kildare County Council for the sewage treatment plant in Ballymore Eustace. The Ballymore Eustace Trout and Salmon Anglers’ Association has for almost forty years requested Kildare County Council to upgrade the sewage treatment plant in Ballymore Eustace but without success. The Association therefore, is pleased that a new sewage treatment plant is to be constructed and also with the conditions set down in the WWDL.
The Association is also pleased that the EPA Inspector dealing with the WWDL application has vindicated our concerns about water quality in the River Liffey at Ballymore Eustace which were made know for many years and on many occasions to all the relevant authorities dealing with the River Liffey. Despite all the assurances to the contrary, the truth has finally emerged and the EPA Inspector tells us in her Report under the heading “Assimilative Capacity” that “At the design emission limit value (25 mg/l), there is no assimilative capacity in the receiving water for BOD based on the quality standards under the European Communities Environmental Objectives (Surface Water) Regulations, 2009, (S.I. No. 272 of 2009).
Table 3.0 highlights that the 95%ile upstream concentration of BOD (6 mg/l) is already in breach of S.I. No. 272 of 2009 before consideration of the WWTP discharge contribution.
Also that “There is no assimilative capacity in the receiving water for orthophosphate based on the quality standards under the European Communities Environmental Objectives (Surface Water) Regulations, 2009, (S.I. No. 272 of 2009).
Tables 3.0 highlights that the 95%ile upstream concentration of orthophosphate (0.203 mg/l) is already in breach of S.I. No. 272 of 2009 before consideration of the WWTP discharge contribution.”
Again, “There is no assimilative capacity in the receiving water for ammonia based on the 95%ile quality standard under the European Communities Environmental Objectives (Surface Water) Regulations, 2009, (S.I. No. 272 of 2009).
Table 3.0 shows that 95%ile concentration upstream of ammonia (0.99 mg/l) is already in breach of S.I. No. 272 of 2009 before consideration of the primary discharge contribution.”
This is a terrible indictment of all the authorities operating on the upper Liffey. Despite publishing the Water Quality Management Plan for the Liffey Catchment back in 1993 and the Three Rivers Project Report in 2002, the Liffey at Ballymore Eustace is still in breach of European Communities Environmental Objectives (Surface Water) Regulations, 2009, (S.I. No. 272 of 2009). Based on our past experience and in the knowledge that past performance by the authorities is the best indicator of future performance, how can the Association have confidence that the Eastern River Basin District Management Plan and Programme of Measures will be implemented? For example, are there any concrete proposals to collect and treat sewage from the villages around Poulaphouca Reservoir such as Kilbride, Lacken, Ballynockan and Valleymount?
The Association considers the “notionally clean river” concept contained in the EPA Inspectors report as an ‘Irish solution to an Irish problem.’ It is akin to telling a dumper that if the illegal dump wasn’t there in the first place, then his bag of rubbish would be acceptable or telling the litter lout that if the street or roadway wasn’t littered in the first place then his plastic container or wrapper would be acceptable.
While it may not be “the role of the Wastewater Discharge Licence to address these other pollutant sources” the Association is disappointed that the Wastewater Discharge Licence Office did not feel obliged to pass on the polluted state of the Liffey and the breach of the European Communities Environmental Objectives (Surface Water) Regulations, 2009, (S.I. No. 272 of 2009) for investigation to the relevant section of the EPA.
However, overall the Association is very pleased with the WWDL and wish to thank the Inspector for telling it as it is. Let all the authorities now get together and rid the Liffey at Ballymore Eustace of pollution once and for all.
A similar letter to the above letter was sent to the following:
EPA Regional Inspectorate
Office of Climate, Licensing & Resource Use, EPA
Mr. Michael Malone, County Manager, Kildare County Council
Mr. Joe Boland, Director of Services, Kildare County Council
Mr. Eddie Sheehy, County Manager, Wicklow County Council
Mr. Bryan Doyle, Director of Services, Wicklow County Council
Mr. John Tierney, City Manager, Dublin City Council
Mr. Tom Leahy, Deputy City Engineer, Dublin City Council
Mr. Ray Earle, Project Coordinator, ERBDMP
Mr. Padraig McManus, C.E.O. Electricity Supply Board
Mr. William Walsh, Inland Fisheries Ireland
The Association received replies from ESB and Mr. Ray Earle, ERBDMP
After a very long wait a reply dated 25th September 2012 (following a complaint from the TSAA concerning the Blessington WWDL to the EPA Director General) was eventually received from the Inspector Environmental Licensing Programme as follows
“Our Ref; Waste water Discharge Licences Reg No. D0238-01
Dear Mr Deegan,
I refer to your letter dated 28th February 2011, received on 01 March 2011 in relation to the Waste Water Discharge licence reference number D0238-01, agglomeration named Ballymore Eustace. I do apologise for our delay in responding to your letter.
The Agency has addressed the number of concerns raised in you correspondence below:
1. Implementation of the Eastern River Basin Management Plan
The EU Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC is being implemented across Europe. The Directive commits member states to preventing deterioration and achieving at least good status in our rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal and ground waters by the year 2015 or by the relevant extention date. It offers a degree of flexibility to each member state in the way it is implemented. The Directive takes a unified approach around the concept of water as a precious natural commodity that must be preserved and regulated to a higher standard.
The Water Framework Directive lays out a schedule for both the transposition of the Directive into laws of each Member State, and the implementation of the various requirements. This timetable sets out the dates at which, each of the key deliverables of the Water Framework Directive must be met.
The task of implementing this River Basin Management Plan falls mainly on Local Authorities, although other agencies and stakeholders are also involved as defined in Section 10 and the Programme of Measures document of the Eastern Management Plan (2009-2015). Dublin City Council is the lead local authority for the Eastern River Basin District Project which comprises of four hydrometric areas and twelve local authorities. The resources to implement the Plan will come from national and local sources and from both private and public sectors.
2. Notionally clean river approach
The notionally clean river approach is used exclusively for municipal waste water discharges. If conditions in the river upstream of the discharge are already failing to meet the good status target then, regardless of how well treated the effluent is, the target environmental quality standard cannot be met. Therefore in such instances it is necessary to separate the effect of a discharge from impacts in the upstream catchment and to assess the impact of the discharge on the assumption that upstream is meeting the good quality status. Other measures are required to address other pollutant sources to ensure that the receiving water upstream of the WWTP achieves good status under the Water Framework Directive. It is noted that the contribution from the Ballymore Eustace primary discharge is very small for BOD, orthophosphate and ammonia based on the emission limit values set in the WWDL for Ballymore Eustace (which apply from 31 December 2012). It is considered that as a result of the installation of the proposed WWTP (due to be completed by 31 December 2012) and compliance with the emission limit values (which apply from 31 December 2012) set in the final licence the increase in concentration of water quality parameters is likely to be very small due to the significant dilution provided in the receiving water at 95 percentile flow rates (approximately 191 dilutions) and there contribute towards compliance with the Surface Water Regulations.
3. Other pollutant sources
Itis not the role of the Waste Water Discharge Licences to address other pollutant sources. However, the EPA is involved in the implementation of the Water Framework Directive. The EPA co-ordinates the activities of the River Basin Districts, Local Authorities and State Agencies in implemention the Water Framework Directive. An overview of the status of all waterbodies as reported to the EU in the formal River Basin Management Plans published in compliance with the requirements of the Water Framework Directive (see wfdireland.ie website)
More details on the WFD monitoring results for Irish rivers, lakes, groundwater, transitional (estuarine) and coastal waters is available in the water quality monitoring section of the EPA website. An update on Ecological Status and Chemical Status of waterbodies monitored under the WFD monitoring programmes during the 2007-2009 period was published by the EPA on the 21 June 2011 – WFD Monitoring Water Status 2007-2009.
One of the Eastern River Basin District (2009-2015) objectives for the Liffey is to restore the Liffey river to good status by 3021. The Eastern River Basin Management Plan (2009-2015) identifies measures to protect and restore water status by addressing the main pressures (that is sources of pollution or status impact) in the district.
The Agency considers that the proposed WWTP at Ballymore Eustace and compliance with the emission limit values in the WWDL shall improve the water quality of the river Liffey in the vicinity of the primary discharge and contribute towards compliance with the Surface Water Regulations. If you have further concerns in relation to the discharge from Ballymore Eustace WWTP, please contact the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement, who are responsible for the enforcement of the WWDL’s on 053 9160600.
Jennifer Cope, Inspector, Environmental Licensing Programme.”
Because the EPA were also dealing with an application by Wicklow County Council for a WWDL for the discharge from Blessington Sewage Plant into Golden Falls Lake the two (Ballymore Eustace and Blessington) got intertwined towards the final stages of the Blessington application.
See separate entry on the long running saga for the Proposed New Sewage Treatment Plant at Ballymore Eustace and also the Blessington Application for a WWDL on our website.
Correspondence relating to the WWDL from all parties i.e. the Applicant, Kildare County Council, the EPA and Third Parties can be read on the EPA website.