An artificial Midlands lake district with the capability to store four months' water supply for Dublin is being considered under ambitious new plans.
The measure is among ten proposals put forward to tackle the capital's water shortage, which is expected to hit home in just 3 years' time.
A major report, seen by the Irish Independent, says that water pumped from the River Shannon could be stored in a 300-acre artificial lake created on Derrygreenagh Bog, close to Rochfortbridge.
It could become a major tourist attraction for the Midlands with boating, angling and water sports facilities.
The proposals come as city engineers say the capital's water supply is on a 'knife-edge' with the booming population placing extreme strain on existing supplies.
If investment is postponed, there will be water shortages by 2011, and by 2016 there will be a need for permanent water rationing, it warns.
Under the the plans before Dublin City Council, water would be extracted from the Shannon during times of flooding, resulting in little or no impact on water levels in the river.
The storage of water in the bogs is being strongly considered because it would allow excess water to be stored, and help prevent flooding during the winter months.
Other proposals being considered include desalination of sea water, extracting groundwater from Fingal and Kildare before treatment, and using the River Barrow to 'top up' existing supplies.
Up to 80pc of the drinking water required for the local authority areas covered by Dublin City, Fingal, South Dublin, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow comes from the River Liffey, with the remainder from Co Wicklow's Poulaphouca reservoir, and the rivers Dodder and Vartry, and some from groundwater sources.
By 2016, existing sources will not have the capability to cater for the city's needs. But the city's population is expected to increase by 500,000 by 2031.
According to city engineer Tom Leahy: "Supply and demand is on a knife-edge. Other cities have 10-25pc spare capacity, Dublin has none. A heavy frost can result in the old cast-iron mains losing 5pc capacity overnight.
"With planned improvements, by 2011 we will have 1pc spare capacity."