'Great news' on the treble for residents in County Limerick village

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Norma Prendiville

'Great news': Minister of State Patrick O'Donovan

'Great news': Minister of State Patrick O'Donovan

ATHEA in County Limerick has had a hat-trick of good announcements this week which it is hoped will help put the West Limerick town on a solid footing to develop in the future.

The signing of the €1.5m contract for the long-awaited sewage treatment plant and funding for a flood relief programme have come as welcome news for the hillside community. And a request to get expert advice for the hard-working Athea Tidy Towns committee has also been given the green light this week.

Last Friday, Irish Water announced that contracts had been signed and work would commence within weeks on a new sewage treatment plant for Athea. The new plant will be built on the site of the existing treatment plant and the work will  also involve building a new pumping station and 500m of new sewers. The new plant will have the capacity to deal with a population up to 900. The work is expected to be completed within 18 months. 

“We are very pleased to be progressing this key project which will benefit the people of Athea now and into the future by protecting local waterways and providing the capacity for future population growth,” said Sean Twohig, Capital Programmes Regional Lead with Irish Water.

“This will also bring important environmental benefits by ending the long-running situation whereby sewage is being discharged with minimal treatment to the River Galey.”

The news has been welcomed by local councillors and by Minister of State, Patrick O’Donovan TD. “This is great news for the people of Athea,” he said.  “I have watched this move through consultation with the local community, to planning with the council and to a situation where we now have the green light to construct.”

In a separate development, Minister of State Kevin Boxer Moran announced last Thursday that Athea is included in the first round of funds as part of the government’s new, €1billion , national, ten-year programme for flood relief  schemes.

In 2008, the river Galey overflowed, flooding up to 12 nearby premises. Ever since, local councillors have warned that people in Athea are living in fear of a recurrence. The proposed works in Athea will include 160metres of flood defence walls and 150 metres of flood defence embankments but this may change and /or evolve.

The first steps will include environmental assessment and public consultation before proceeding to planning and construction and it could be 12 months or more before any building work begins. 

Athea is included along with Rathkeale and Castleconnell in schemes estimated to cost under €1m and included for funding in the first €257m tranche of funds. Rathkeale is set to get 400m of defence embankment between one and one and a half metres high.

“This is great news for people in County Limerick and in particular for the communities in Athea and Rathkeale, “Minister O’Donovan said, adding that he was very impressed with the way Irish Water had dealt with the project.  “I’m delighted the government has listened to the people here in County Limerick. This significant investment will benefit our communities for many years to come.”

Finally, for Athea, comes confirmation that a request from Cllr John Sheahan that the Tidy Towns Committee get expert input in drawing up a five year plan has been agreed. The architectural team in the Town and Village Renewal Section of Limerick City and County Council will provide assistance, Cllr Sheahan was told.

“As a committee, we felt we had brought the village to a certain level. We have put a lot of work in and our plans and aims have mainly been met,” the committee’s secretary Damien Aherne said. “We are now looking at the broader view to guide us in years ahead.”

Next year, there are big changes on the way for the competition, he explained, and they wanted to prepare and be ready for that with a good plan.