Press Release

Successful prosecution against Uisce Éireann for sewage-related pollution

Uisce Éireann to pay almost €5,200 in fines and costs for Cavan incident

Thursday, December 14th, 2023: Inland Fisheries Ireland has welcomed the outcome of a case it brought against Uisce Éireann involving sewage pollution of the Cavan town river.

It comes after Inland Fisheries Ireland(IFI) had previously secured prosecution in October against Uisce Éireann for pollution of the Ballinagh River in Cavan, during which 160 fish died.

In the incident at Cavan town river, test samples taken downstream from Uisce Éireann’s wastewater treatment plant showed high levels of pollutants, with large amounts of sewage fungus – bacteria, fungus and algae that reduce oxygen levels - visible on the bed of the river.  

sewage pollution

A fine of €2,000, plus costs and expenses of €3,197, were imposed at a hearing on the matter at Cavan District Court on December 1st 2023. 

Commenting on the verdict, Dr Milton Matthews, Director of IFI’s North-Western River Basin District said: “We welcome the outcome in this case. The presence of sewage fungus in the river is indicative of chronic organic pollution of Cavan town river at this location, rather than an isolated incident - with significant impact on fish, invertebrates and all aquatic life in the river.  

“There were significant breaches of the licence emission limits for Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) - oxygen required to break down organic matter in the water - and high ammonia levels.

“Sample results taken at the location indicated that ammonia levels were over 115 times higher than permitted discharge limits, and eight times higher than permissible for BOD limits as stipulated for this treatment plant.”

The pollution event took place on February 3rd 2023. 

The court heard that due to ongoing issues at the plant Senior IFI Fisheries Environmental Officer Ailish Keane had taken samples for analysis, which indicated high levels of pollutants. 

The conviction was secured under Section 171 of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959 – legislation regarding protection of fishing waters from harmful pollutants.

Members of the public are encouraged to report instances of water pollution, illegal fishing, habitat destruction, or fish kills to Inland Fisheries Ireland’s confidential number, 0818 34 74 24. 

On October 6th 2023 Inland Fisheries Ireland secured a successful prosecution against Uisce Éireann for pollution of the Ballinagh River in Cavan in which killed 160 fish.

For original statement on this incident see: