Irish Water says new supply will cost €13m a year
Pumping water from the River Shannon to serve Dublin and the Midlands will cost €13m every year, Irish Water says.
The utility said the operational cost of extracting 330 million litres of water a day and pumping it 170km across the country will be €325m over 25 years, compared with €953m if sea water was used to produce a new supply.
The figures come as the Dáil Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government meets today to discuss the €1.3bn water supply project which is designed to improve headroom in the network and prevent the cut-offs seen during Storm Emma in March and during the Web Summit in recent years.
However, there are concerns from landowners as to the impact the project will have on their businesses including farms and stud farms, coupled with concerns around water levels in the River Shannon.
Groups opposed to the project said Irish Water should focus on reducing leakage and replacing antiquated mains pipes, which would bolster the system and avoid the need to extract from the Shannon. They accused the utility of being "disingenuous", adding a "balanced and informed" critique of the project was needed to avoid "sheer wastage" of public money.
Committee chair Maria Bailey (FG) said concerns would be highlighted while taking account of the need to provide sufficient water for the capital and Midlands.
Irish Water said unless the project goes ahead, shortages will arise from 2025 as the economy grows and population expands, with Dublin, Mullingar and Ashbourne among the areas facing supply issues.
"The committee will want to discuss issues such as the cost, environmental impact, and planning," Ms Bailey said. "With the eastern and Midlands region continuing to increase in population, it is vital that plans are in place to address water supply needs safely and efficiently."
Concerns have also been raised that areas of the capital which currently have 'soft' water could find themselves with 'harder' water, which can affect heating elements in showers, washing machines, dishwashers and kettles. A spokeswoman for Irish Water said the Shannon water would be "blended" with existing supplies in Dublin, adding that hardness was a characteristic of much of the country's supply.
Water from the Liffey, which supplies almost 200 million litres a day to the city, shared similar characteristics to that in the Shannon, she added.