‘Shameful’ no action taken over Dodder sewer issues

By Mary Dennehy

AS THE Dodder Greenway project progresses, Irish Water needs to take its “head out of the sand” in relation to the continuous surcharging of the Dodder Valley Sewer.

Only two weeks ago, heavy and persistent rain resulted in the Dodder Valley Sewer surchaging and flooding into the surrounding parkland.

Dodder Valley Park 2 1

The general area at the Dodder this week that was flooded due to the sewer surcharge entering the park

The surcharge which has been confirmed by Irish Water, was captured on video by a park user on Saturday, January 30 – as waste water and debris gushed into a stretch of parkland between the Weir and Cherryfield.

The manholes that surcharged are part of the Dodder Valley Sewer, which in turn is part of Irish Water’s waste water network for the Dublin region.

The sewer surcharing is not new news.

Councillors, park users and local environmental groups have been highlighting this issue.

However, it continues.

And, at times of persistent heavy rain, and the system reaches peak capacity, there is the risk of waste water overflowing into the park - and towards one of the city’s most important, biodiverse waterways, the Dodder. 

Councillor Alan Edge (Independent) is among a number of councillors raising this issue.

“I’ve made seven reports, put down two motions and a question, and drafted an open letter to Irish Water signed by several colleagues in September 2019”, Cllr Edge told The Echo.

“Besides that, I’ve had substantial correspondence and meetings directly with Irish Water, all to absolutely no avail as the recent footage shows.

Dodder Valley Park video screen grab 1

Image taken from a video captured by a park user on January 30

“After 18 months campaigning on this issue and notwithstanding the effects of the pandemic, I think it’s shameful that Irish Water have utterly failed to take any action to rectify this problem or even to take remedial action in the short-term.”

South Dublin County Council installed a fence to contain any debris during surcharges, but during heavy storm weather the debris overflows the cage and spreads into the park.

Working under a service level agreement with Irish Water, the council clears the area, reponding to requests from councillors and members of the public.

However, Cllr Edge believes that Irish Water now needs to provide a time frame to resolve capacity issues and ensure ‘immediate remedial action’ is carried out.

“Failure to do so would demonstrate a total contempt for public health and safety on their part”, Cllr Edge said.

“Above all, given that the Dodder Greenway is progressing rapidly, it’s incumbent on Irish Water to take their head out of the sand now and take steps to resolve this problem.”

The Echo contacted Irish Water this week.

In relation to the surcharge on January 30, a spokesperson for Irish Water said: “Following a period of heavy rainfall three manholes on the Dodder Valley Sewer surcharged.

“After this incident and the heavy rainfall event an initial clean-up was carried out, however the water-logged ground conditions meant it was unsafe for a complete clean-up of the area to be carried out at that time. 

“The area impacted by the overflow was cordoned off and signs were erected to inform the public.

 “A further clean-up of the site has been completed in adherence with current government and HSE Covid-19 advice but the water logged ground conditions has delayed the spreading of new topsoil with the necessary machinery.”

Irish Water confirmed that the Environmental Protection Agency, Inland Fisheries Ireland and other stakeholders were notified of the incident.

When asked about plans to resolve the issue and a timeline , the spokesperson said that Irish Water is delivering Drainage Area Plans in Dublin – with the survey stage for the Dodder Valley plan ‘nearing completion’.

“Irish Water in partnership with South Dublin County Council aim to design an appropriate storage tank to capture and manage the misconnected flow in order to minimise future overflows or surcharges”, an Irish Water spokesperson said.

“The location, size, and how the tank will operate will be considered as part of the next stage of the Drainage Area Plan and will take into consideration any impact on the environment.

“The process of obtaining all the data to construct a hydraulic model, to carry out detailed design, and to submit the optimum design under a planning permission will take a number of years.”

While Irish Water confirmed that the overflow was not caused by a blockage, they have reminded members of the public to not flush items like wetwipes down the toilet.

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