Green solution to waste now an amenity in Laois village in Slieve Bloom mountains

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Clonaslee integrated wetlands Irish Water Laois

Pictured at the event are students from Scoil Bhride National School in Clonaslee with Dr Brian Deegan, Catchment Scientist and Lead Ecologist at Irish Water who provided a tour of the Wetlands.

Irish Water and Laois County Council have hosted the official opening of the Clonaslee Integrated Constructed Wetlands (ICW) as a recreational amenity for the community.

Local county councillor Cllr Seamus McDonald joined Irish Water and Laois County Council to officially mark the opening of the Wetland to the community in Clonaslee and to the general public.

Students from Scoil Bhride Clonaslee National School and members of the Clonaslee Tidy Towns, Clonaslee Community Development Association and Clonaslee Heritage groups were also present at the event and were given a guided tour of the Wetlands by Dr Brian Deegan, Catchment Scientist and Lead Ecologist at Irish Water.

The Wetlands in Clonaslee were designed by VESI Environmental Ltd and Irish Water and Laois County Council were delighted that they attended today’s event.

Prior to the construction of the Clonaslee Integrated Constructed Wetland the area was served by a wastewater treatment plant that had been in operation since the 1940’s. Laois County Council secured Government funding under the WSIP and work on the Wetland began in August 2011 and was completed by 2012 by Portlaoise based Contractors, Killeen Civil Engineering.

The Wetland is designed to treat sewerage and storm water flows from the town of Clonaslee and return treated water of the highest quality to the River Clodiagh. The ICW of Clonaslee is made up of a series of five ponds and two receiving sludge settlement ponds used in rotation for the management of the wetlands. The Wetlands are a key feature of the Irish country-side and include areas such as bogs, marshes, ponds and lake, river, wet woodlands/grasslands, fens, estuaries and coastal lagoons.

The Clonaslee Integrated Wetlands is the ideal location to visit to learn more about the ecology of the area. Since its construction, Laois County Council hosted a delegation from China’s Ministry of Water Resources as well as gaining national coverage on ECO EYE as the site is recognised as a shining example of green technology and an innovative way to treat wastewater.

ICW’s are one of the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to rain forests and coral reefs.An immense variety of species of microbes, plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish and mammals can be part of a wetland ecosystem. Climate, landscape shape (topology), geology and the movement and abundance of water help to determine the plants and animals that inhabit each wetland.

Commenting on the opening of the Clonaslee Integrated Constructed Wetlands to the community John O’ Donoghue, Regional Operations Manager for the East and Midlands at Irish Water said “We are delighted to open the Clonaslee Integrated Constructed Wetlands to the public.

It is a fantastic recreational resource for the community to enjoy. It is a lovely setting to go for a walk or jog and is home to a variety of wildlife. The Clonaslee ICW protects the environment and is a sustainable solution for wastewater treatment in the area. Integrated Constructed Wetlands form part of Irish Water’s sustainable model for wastewater treatment in Ireland.”

Michael O’Hora, Senior Engineer with Laois County Council’s Water and Environment Section, outlined the varied ecological benefits which the site will deliver. Not only will it support ecological studies for all traditional educational centres, it also assists Clonaslee Tidy Towns with the implementation of their 2015 Local Biodiversity Action Plan, funded by Laois County Council and the Heritage Council.

This action plan has made such a positive difference to the wider environment and will no doubt encourage wildlife enthusiasts to discover what is on their doorstep. Laois County Council is delighted to see that Irish Water is complementing our original vision of this site by opening it up to the public for everyone to enjoy.

Irish Water is involved in a number of Integrated Constructed Wetland Projects around the country. The Dunhill and Clonaslee ICW projects, were already progressed prior to the formation of Irish Water, while a number of others are currently at design stage including at Saleens in Cork, Muff in Donegal and Glaslough in Co. Monaghan.

Integrated constructed wetlands are carefully planned to integrate into the natural surrounding landscape and are built using natural materials like native plants, trees, soil, sand and stones. They protect the environment, are a sustainable and natural wastewater treatment method and provide a valuable educational and recreational resource for the local communities they are based in.