Toilet Talk

Manx Utilities has responded to concerns by the Liberal Vannin Party about the island’s water quality.

This comes as it announced an update for plans in Peel, Laxey and Baldrine.

The party said its main concern was the releasing of raw sewage into the island’s rivers and bathing waters.

In a statement, Lib Vannin said it was concerned at the ‘continuing inability of the MUA to deal
with the unacceptable state of our sewage treatment on the island’.

The party added: ‘The MUA have come up with new solutions for Laxey and Peel, but we have been here before and these proposals still anticipate an unacceptable number of annual overspill discharges of effluent into Laxey Bay (an estimated 30 during each official bathing season). The same is true for Peel, which is further exacerbated by the effluent including pcbs (polychlorinated biphenyls).

‘The sewage system for Douglas is also totally inadequate, with regular discharge into the river from the overflow adjacent to the Tesco car park. Millions of pounds have been spent on our IRIS scheme, with the usual lack of strategic planning, project management and political oversight. The island deserves better. Our beaches deserve better. Our children deserve a better future. Sadly, we’re continually asked to hold our breath.’

Good or Excellent

In its response, Manx Utilities said that bathing water quality is ‘generally either ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ at all locations served by either IRIS or Manx Utilities’ regional sewage treatment infrastructure’.

The authority added that if its previous plans had been approved, then the issues in Laxey and Peel would be nearing completion by now. It is worth noting that a sizeable number of the residents of Laxey hated that original plan and were successful in convincing the planning committee to refuse it. The Peel plans, which came after the demolition of a historic house.


Looking first at the east coast, Manx Utilities says it is ‘not financially viable to reduce the number of storm spills down to the level required by the 2006 Bathing Water Directive’ due to the, largely Victorian, sewage network. It adds: ‘As such, the proposal is to utilise tertiary treatment in the form of ultraviolet radiation to reduce the bacterial content of the storm spills to a level that ensures the bathing water quality is not compromised, as is allowed under the 2006 Directive.’


Manx Utilities says that Sunset City’s network has fewer combined sewers and that the large holding tanks at the promenade pumping station have ‘suitable capacity to limit the number of storm discharges during the bathing season to an acceptable level’.

It added: ‘The Raggatt Leachate will be processed by the new sewage treatment works which will remove a high percentage of the PCBs which were already at a very small level.  The design will be such that the leachate will be continuously processed and will not form part of any storm discharges.’


The authority said that the network of the island’s capital allows the discharge of storm water into rivers and sea during heavy rain, which it said is ‘in a similar manner to sewer networks around the world’.

The authority added: ‘his ensures the treatment of sewage in a cost effective and sustainable manner, minimising both the carbon footprint of pumping/treating storm sewage and the impact of discharging into the aquatic environment.  Spills form the Lake Road Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) are screened to 6mm as per latest standards to remove solid particles, and have been modelled to evidence the minimal impact on bathing waters.’