Uisce Éireann pioneers Ireland’s first phosphorous recovery facility

Uisce Éireann has completed Ireland’s first ever facility to recover valuable phosphorous from wastewater, contributing to a more sustainable approach to wastewater treatment.

This innovative technology applies the principles of the circular economy to deliver significant environmental benefits while producing a valuable resource to help grow food and crops.

This exciting new development at Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant is another important step in protecting the waters of the Lower Liffey Estuary and Dublin Bay.

Phosphorous is a finite resource which has real value in agriculture and other sectors as a fertilizer product. However, when it enters nutrient-sensitive water bodies in wastewater discharges or in runoff from land it can cause a range of problems, including algal blooms which impact on water quality and aquatic life.

Jean Hobbs, Senior Programme Manager for Uisce Éireann said, “This is a very exciting development for Uisce Éireann and everyone living in the vicinity of Dublin Bay. By applying innovation and cutting-edge technology we have developed a sustainable solution to the problem of excess phosphorus at Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant. Phosphorus, which had been discharged into the bay is now being recovered for use as a safe product which can be spread on land to help grow crops, thus removing an excess nutrient from the waste stream, and turning it into a valuable resource instead.”

Up to now, while a certain amount of the mineral was removed during the treatment process, a significant portion was still being discharged in treated wastewater. The new process which has been developed at Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant– Ireland’s largest wastewater treatment plant, taking 40% of the entire country’s sewage load – allows  an additional 1.3 tonnes of phosphorous a day to be recovered from the treated wastewater.

Jean added: “The provision of a phosphorus recovery process is also a key step in enabling Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant to achieve compliance with the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive.”

Its recovery in this way will not only help protect the Lower Liffey Estuary and Dublin Bay, but is also in line with the principles of a circular economy and resource recovery.

At full capacity, the Phosphorous-recovery facility in Ringsend will be capable of producing over 4,000 tonnes of fertiliser product per year.

The Phosphorous Recovery Facility is part of an overall investment of over €500 million in the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant, which will enable the plant to support Dublin’s growing population while achieving compliance with the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive. The facility has been built within the confines of the existing Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant. It will operate in tandem with the Aerobic Granular Sludge technology to remove nutrients from wastewater discharges. This treatment process will consistently produce high-quality treated wastewater which can be safely discharged into Dublin Bay.

Uisce Éireann is investing over €500 million to upgrade the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant. Works are underway to provide infrastructure to achieve compliance with the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive for a population equivalent of 2.1 million by the end of 2023. When all the proposed works are complete at the end of 2025, the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant will be able to treat wastewater for up to 2.4 million population equivalent while meeting the required standards. Further information is available at https://www.water.ie/projects-plans/ringsend/