Irish Water's plan was in the pipeline for some time
Published 26/11/2015 | 02:30
Irish Water's decision is no great surprise. Given the high costs of making sea water safe to drink, desalination was a no-brainer.
There's no question about the need for a new supply for Dublin, the only question was from what point on the River Shannon would water be drawn.
During the 2013 Web Summit, more than one million people had supplies restricted after serious problems emerged at the country's biggest treatment plant.
Shortages are believed to cost the economy around €80m a day, not to mention the embarrassment of a supposedly developed nation being unable to meet this most basic of human needs. But shortages are not just confined to Dublin, where the population is expected to rise from 1.5 million at present to around 2.15 million by 2050. The Midlands will be home to around 680,000 by the middle of the century, up from 530,000 today, and it too is experiencing problems.
The reason why we are in the current position is well known and repeatedly aired - a chronic failure to invest in the network over the lifetime of successive governments
Irish Water says that between salaries for construction workers, plant and equipment and capital spending, around €500m will be required locally during the four-year construction period. Another €8m will go towards tourism, sport and other local projects. There's little doubt this planning process will be long and protracted, with many questions for Irish Water.
It has taken eight years to get to this point, and finally a new water source has been identified. The question now is whether the legitimate concerns of local communities can be addressed so there is buy-in from people living in all parts of the country, and not just those in the capital affected by rare, but frustrating shortages.