Closing plant 'makes sense'
Irish Water says its plan to decommission the Cairns Hill Water Treatment Plant "makes perfect sense."
A spokesperson told The Sligo Champion that the current treatment process at Cairns Hill puts it at "risk of failure to meet all drinking water quality standards".
"There are over 900 Water Treatment Plants in the Republic of Ireland. This is far too many e.g. Northern Ireland has approximately 22 plants. It makes perfect sense to rationalise and decommission older expensive to run plants," they said.
Irish Water started a €3 million investment in the Sligo and Environs Water Supply last April which it claims will directly benefit 33,000 consumers by providing safe and sustainable drinking water. The Foxes Den and Cairns Hill Water Treatment Plants (WTP) currently take raw water from Lough Gill.
They claim that by closing the Cairns Hill plant, the 11,000 people currently served by it will be provided with a more sustainable water supply from the upgraded Foxes Den plant.
"The upgrading of the existing Foxes Den WTP will ensure that the plant can meet the current water demand whilst also providing capacity to meet future development needs. "Providing additional capacity at this plant was found to be more cost effective than trying to completely refurbish the older Cairns Hill plant. Celtic Anglian Water Ltd commenced works in 2016 on behalf of Irish Water with works due to be complete in the next 2 months.
"This will increase capacity at the Foxes Den WTP to 11,000M3/d over 20 hours (with capacity to produce up to 13,200M3/d over 24 hours)," said the spokesperson.
Foxes Den currently produces 9,600m3/D over 20 hours and 11,500 m3/D over 24 hours. Cairns Hill provides only 2,500 m3/D into production.
Sligo/Leitrim Deputy Marc MacSharry queried whether enough water treatment capacity would exist in Sligo to attract new industry and businesses.
However Irish Water responded that they have "recently reviewed enquiries in relation to the provision of additional water within Sligo and is satisfied that adequate water supply capacity exists."
Irish Water is investing in the rehabilitation of water mains in Sligo, which will reduce the demands on the treatment plants. Work has started on a €6.8 million contract for the Sligo City Water Main Rehabilitation (8.7km) and Pearse Road Sewer Network (1.5km) Project which will involve the replacement and rehabilitation of ageing water mains, installation of new sewers and replacement of all service connections.
Work will start shortly on the €1.25 million O'Connell Street Water Main and Sewer Rehabilitation Works which will it says will improve water supply and water quality to O'Connell Street and improve the existing combined sewer culvert that runs along the street.