Tuesday 16 January 2018

Oral hearing into water treatment plant upgrade

Cllr Jennifer Whitmore
Cllr Jennifer Whitmore
The water treatment plant

Myles Buchanan

An Bord Pleanála will hold an oral hearing as part of its deliberations into the planned upgrade of the Vartry Water Treatment Plant.

Irish Water secured planning permission for the upgrade from Wicklow County Council in 2016. However, that decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

'We are pleased to respond to a request from An Bord Pleanála to participate in an oral hearing into the planned upgrade of the Vartry Water Treatment Plant,' said Geoff O'Sullivan, Project Manager with Irish Water.

'The upgrade of the 150-year old Vartry Water Supply Scheme is a priority project for Irish Water, given its importance to so many people in Wicklow and south Dublin.

'As part of the project, Irish Water have committed to a number of significant measures to protect the ecology of the River Vartry, particularly during drought periods.'

Cllr Jennifer Whitmore also welcomes the oral hearing. Earlier in the year, she wrote to An Bord Pleanála to outline her concerns regarding the upgrade of the reservoir.

She has a background in fisheries and aquaculture and also requested that an oral hearing should be conducted as part of the appeal process.

'I am very pleased that An Bord Pleanála has called for an oral hearing. Now we can have the opportunity to have a full discussion and examination of the potential impact of the upgrade.

'It's a chance for people to get involved who might not have realised the size of Irish Water's plans. Now it will be a completely transparent process,' said Cllr Whitmore.

'Irish Water were not required to carry out an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the proposal and I think an EIS would be a great help. There are a lot of people who aren't aware of how big the project will be and the potential impact it could have on the Vartry River.

'I still think there is an opportunity for a compromise. I know upgrade works are badly needed and I think all parties and stakeholders can work together and find a solution,' said Cllr Whitmore.

Irish Water maintains that no additional water will be abstracted from the Vartry Reservoirs or from the catchment of the River Vartry.

A commitment has also been made to provide flows of five million litres per day that will replace water that releases from the present water treatment plant on a variable basis.

Plans are also under way to extend the catchment area for the Vartry Water Supply Scheme to secure the water supply to areas of mid-Wicklow, including Rathdrum, Aughrim, Annacurra, Avoca, Ballinaclash, Roundwood, Laragh, Annamoe, Redcross, Conary and Glenealy.

These areas are currently served by vulnerable water sources which have been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as being at risk of failure to meet the current drinking water regulations for trihalomethanes (THMs) and cryptosporidium.

Bray People

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