Taking water from Shannon has capital cost of €560m
THE State will have to find more than half a billion euro to build a network of pipes to pump water from the River Shannon to serve the capital.
The cost of building the massive water supply project for the Dublin region could be up to €560m, with an additional operating cost of €160m over 25 years.
Dublin City Council wants to take the water because supplies in the city are precarious. Treatment plants at Ballymore Eustace, Leixlip and Roundwood cannot cope with demand, and unless a new water source is found the council will be forced to ration water to homeowners and businesses.
Detailed proposals were published yesterday by the local authority which, if approved, would result in up to 410m litres of water a day being taken from the Shannon at Lough Derg during flooding periods and when conditions are suitable.
The water would then be pumped through 62km of pipes to a massive reservoir at Garryhinch near Portarlington, on a disused 600-acre bog owned by Bord na Mona where it would be stored for up to five months.
It would be treated there before being pumped through another 54km of pipeline to Dublin where it will serve more than a million people.
The Water Supply Project report said Lough Derg would have to start providing water for the capital within a decade.
"Supplies from a new source are required by 2022 (latest)," it said.
"The analysis identified that a total requirement of 300m litres per day would be required to ensure sufficient capacity and headroom to meet the region's average and peak demand needs up to 2040 and beyond." The new supply would also be used to provide drinking water in Offaly, Laois and Westmeath.
However, the plan faces stiff local opposition.
The Shannon Protection Alliance insists that if the water is taken, it will adversely affect tourism, especially in the leisure boat and angling sectors.
The council, meanwhile, insists that lake levels in Lough Derg would not be affected, and that abstraction of water will not take place when lake levels are low.
"The water scheme, including the new midlands water-based eco-park and storage, is essential to provide for security of supply and job creation; it will not affect water levels on the Shannon and fully protects the environment," said city engineer Tom Leahy.
"It is part of an overall water services programme which includes projects to reduce leakage and replace the old Victorian pipe network."
A 1,400-acre eco-park will be built around the reservoir at Garryhinch, allowing it to be used for non-motorised water sports including sailing, canoeing and windsurfing. Walking and cycling trails could also be provided.
The plan will cost a total of €720m to implement, including operating costs, and permission will be sought from An Bord Pleanala next year.
The plans are on display at four Dublin local authorities as well as in Kildare, Meath, Wicklow, Laois, Offaly, north Tipperary, Westmeath, Galway, Limerick and Clare councils until November 1. If granted planning permission the Department of Environment will be funding the project.