Irish Water, Ireland’s National water utility, is seeking public input on siting numerous “Regional Sludge Hub Centres”. Irish Water is moving to centralize its sludge management operations. In a report on Cork Live News, Irish Water Program Manager Paul Fallon was quoted as saying "We are doing this because the current method of treating sludge is in a very dispersed, inefficient and unsustainable manner. The creation of sludge hubs will ensure that sludge can be treated with the highest quality and standard."

Another reason given for the need for sludge hubs was the increase in the volume of sludge being produced. The plans for the sludge hubs are part of Irish Water’s National Wastewater Sludge Management Plan which is based on an 80% increase in sludge production by 2040.

Irish Water is holding public meetings and seeking input on its Site Selection Methodology Report which recommends seven wastewater treatment facilities for possible sludge hubs including Kilkenny, Wexford, Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Limerick, and Tipperary. The decisions will be based on environmental, planning, economic, and technical qualifications of each site.

For more information about the sludge hubs, go to Irish Water’s website.

NEBRA recently completed “The Mass Sludge Survey 2018” for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MACEC) with recommendations for regional sludge handling facilities. In particular, the MACEC was interested in the potential of anaerobic digestion to generate renewable energy and make productive use of biogas. The concept of sludge hubs has merit, but public acceptance is crucial. It will be interesting to follow up on Irish Water’s stakeholder process and final decisions in a future NEBRAMail.