Locals want action as sewage washes up on scenic Howth beach
A broken pipe is discharging sewage onto a beach at a noted beauty spot in Howth - and now walkers are demanding that authorities fix it.
The badly-damaged pipe serves a population of around 100 people on the south side of Howth. Local Green Party Councillor David Healy said it discharges directly on to the stony beach at Doldrum Bay, near the Ceanchor Road, because it is fractured.
Irish Water now wants to overturn an order issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to discontinue the use of the pipe, which was supposed to be decommissioned four years ago.
An inspector for Irish Water who visited the site last month noted that the pipe was beyond repair and a mixture of raw sewage and septic tank effluent runs from the top of the beach, instead of being carried out to the Irish Sea.
Irish Water said works to solve the problem would be difficult because of the location and terrain and, as a result, would be costly. It has not included funding for the project under its capital investment plan, despite the fact that the deactivation of the pipe by the end of 2011 had been ordered as part of the licence granted for the construction of the Ringsend wastewater works.
The cost of diverting the pipe to Ringsend could cost upwards of €1.5m.
People who flock to the scenic site that offers spectacular cliff views have called on Irish Water to rethink their decision and get the pipe fixed as quickly as possible.
"I've seen people on the beach, but I wouldn't swim there knowing there was sewage flowing into it," said Tom Durran, from Baldoyle, who regularly walks the cliff route.
"It should be fixed. Look at the views around here. People are drawn to the area as an amenity and it should be kept in the best condition possible.
"There are lots of visitors and while locals might know about the problem, they might not, so it could be an issue."
Michael Duggan, from Drumcondra, was walking the pathway with his daughter and grandson.
"You don't expect to be hearing about sewage flowing on to the beach in such a scenic area," he told the Herald.
"It should be fixed. There should be no raw sewage being pumped into the sea anywhere."
Councillor Healy recently called on the EPA to intervene.
A spokeswoman for Irish water said that it was in "ongoing contact" with the EPA with a view to dealing with the issue.
"Irish Water has confirmed to the Agency that it will carry out a full assessment of the catchment prior to carrying out any work on the outfall," the representative said.