Court concern at raw sewage going straight into river
The dirty truth at the rear of a pretty terrace of houses in Wexford was exposed during the hearing of a court case.
Judge Gerard Haughton learned that raw sewage from 140-year-old homes between Wexford Rugby Club and Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club goes straight into the Slaney without treatment.
He was dealing with the case of Wexford County Council versus Annette Codd of Cleariestown House, Cleariestown as owner of one of the houses.
After hearing that waste water continues to be flushed into the estuary, he allowed her a month to try to come up with a solution to the pollution.
The prosecution under the Water Pollution Act for the illegal discharge was initiated two years ago by the local authority and guilt was promptly admitted.
However, in court on October 24, the council's solicitor Caitriona Walsh noted that no work had since been taken to deal with the problem.
The main drainage scheme putting modern sewers in large parts of Wexford town was installed a decade ago but it is believed that none of the homes in the terrace at Carcur has yet been connected.
Ms Codd faces the prospect of having to pay more than €1,300 in legal costs and expenses as well as whatever fine is imposed.
In her defence, solicitor Sean Lowney acknowledged that there is not even a septic tank in place to filter the waste water before it enters the waters of what is officially designated a 'special area of conservation'.
He reckoned that the cost of hooking all of the 13 houses in the row, which are listed for preservation, up to the main drainage would be €90,000.
The move would attract grants of around €70,000 if all of the houses were owner occupied but in fact all but two are rented out and so do not qualify for the grants.
The solicitor revealed that Annette Codd's income of €225 per week is made up of rent from two of the 13 and other Codd family members own the other units.
Some of the letting agreements are very old and, in one case, a tenant aged more than 90 and paying a nominal rent, was born there.
Mr Lowney asked for an adjournment to allow his client seek agreement from family members on joining together to come up with proposals to abate the nuisance.
The court heard warnings that the county council may move to prosecute the owners of other houses, none of which is thought to comply with modern sanitary standards.
Judge Haughton underlined that, while he appreciated that Ms Codd faced difficulties, the discharge of raw sewage into a river or harbour was something he regarded as serious.
He noted that measures to clean up Wicklow harbour had allowed ducks and swans to return, while swimmers now bathe in clean water.
The case stands adjourned to November 28 and he hoped to see proposals tabled by that date.