An Taoiseach Micheál Martin in Cobh for the official opening of the Cork Dockyard Pumping Station. He is pictured with Irish Water Managing Director Eamon Gallen. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

No more raw sewage for Cork Harbour

A significant milestone was marked this week when the decades-long practice of pumping raw sewage into Cork Lower Harbour finally came to an end.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was on hand to officially opened the Cork Dockyard Pumping Station, which now transfers raw sewage from Cobh for treatment.

The opening marks the last step in the Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project and means that 20,000 homes and businesses are now connected to the overall scheme.

Until now, the equivalent of 40,000 wheelie bins of raw sewage was being discharged into Cork Harbour on a daily basis.

From now on, raw sewage will be pumped from Cobh to the Cork Dockyard pumping station and then transferred for treatment to Shanbally Wastewater Treatment Plant via the Lee Estuary Crossing.

Irish Water has invested €144 million in the Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project and has already opened facilities and improved infrastructure in Ringaskiddy, Shanbally, Crosshaven, Carrigaline, Passage West and Monkstown.

Speaking at the official opening, the Taoiseach said the project will provide new opportunities for sustainable social and economic development in the area.

He said: “This is a historic day for the communities living in and around Cork Lower Harbour. We have already seen the benefits that this project has brought.

“This final stage will add to that improvement, providing further capacity for growth and enhancing the wonderful amenity that is Cork Harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world.”

Also present at the opening was County Mayor Cllr Gillian Coughlan who said the ending of raw sewage discharges from Cobh will increase the potential for tourism and recreational activities in the area.

The completion of the pumping plant in Cobh brings to 17 the number of towns and villages across the country where Irish Water has built new wastewater infrastructure since 2014.

According to Irish Water, the amount of raw sewage now entering waterways in Ireland is less than half of what it was before the project began, with the company saying it is on track to remove the majority of raw sewage discharges in Ireland by 2025.

Eamon Gallen, Irish Water’s General Manager, said: “This represents an overall investment of €650 million towards improving water quality in our rivers, lakes and seas.”

Déaglán Healy, Irish Water’s project manager, added: “We have come a long way since we started work on this project in 2014. Today, after two years working to expand the sewer network in Cobh, we are now transferring the raw sewage from Cobh for treatment via that estuary crossing, before it’s safe discharge to sea – it’s a great day.”

Before the project began, wastewater was collected from homes and businesses across the lower harbour area and discharged untreated into the sea.

This practice was in breach of national and European legislation and Ireland is currently in contravention of the European Union Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive.

The provision of secondary wastewater treatment into the harbour is a requirement of European and national legislation.

For more information on the Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project, contact the project team at or visit at