Sunday 4 December 2016

Linking Lough Derg to capital can solve drinking water crisis

Published 20/07/2010 | 05:00

UP to 1,000 construction jobs will be created if plans by Dublin City Council to take water from the River Shannon to provide drinking water for the capital are approved.

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Details of the controversial scheme to take water from Lough Derg and store it in a giant reservoir in the midlands were revealed yesterday, and the entire project could be completed in just six years.

The council plans to draw water from the northern part of Lough Derg near Portumna in Co Galway during the winter when there is a risk of flooding.

Under the €540m plan, water will be stored in the Garryhinch cutaway bog near Portarlington in Co Offaly before being pumped to Dublin. The reservoir will be built by Bord na Mona, which owns the bog, and the water will be treated before being transported to the capital through a pipe buried two metres underground.

The Dublin region is currently supplied with drinking water from four treatment plants that can produce a maximum of 550 million litres a day. Average demand is between 530 million and 540 million litres, which means there is little or no spare capacity in the system.

Higher-than-average use in summer or burst mains in winter can then lead to shortages and rationing -- a problem only likely to get worse in future.

Dublin City Council will meet on Thursday to discuss the plans, which it hopes will end water shortages for 1.5 million people living on the east coast.

The proposal would have to be approved by An Bord Pleannala under a fast-track planning process for vital infrastructure projects and, if it gets the green light, up to 1,000 jobs would be created during the construction period, Bord na Mona chief executive Gabriel D'Arcy said yesterday.

It would also create a natural amenity that could be used for sailing, fishing and bird watching along the lines of a reservoir at Rutland in England which supplies water to parts of London, draws one million visitors a year and houses Britain's largest inland sailing school and angling area, he added.

While Bord na Mona has created a much smaller wetland on a disused bog in Lough Boora, which attracts 30,000 visitors a year, it has never built anything on this scale before.

Security

"The project is needed to provide security of water supplies and to sustain and grow jobs and the economy; particularly to afford growth opportunities to the nationally important strategic industries relying on water to generate exported products," Dublin City Council executive manager Tom Leahy said.

"The midlands would gain a permanent innovative water-based tourism amenity that would also rehabilitate the existing cutaway bog. It will provide a large number of jobs, both during construction and on-going local jobs in the water treatment plant, managing the eco-park and promoting it as a top leisure and tourist amenity."

The plan would be the first significant attempt to secure Dublin's water supplies since the 1940s when the ESB and Dublin Corporation developed a joint venture scheme to provide dams at Poulaphuca and Leixlip on the River Liffey to impound water for power generation and for public water supplies.

In a separate development, Environment Minister John Gormley yesterday gave the council permission to begin replacing old water mains to reduce leakage. The project will cost €12.8m.

Irish Independent

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