A 500-ACRE bog in Co Offaly has been chosen as the proposed site for an “eco water park and reservoir” as part of Dublin City Council’s plan to pump water from the river Shannon.
The council is proposing a €540 million, Government-funded project which would supply 350 million litres of water a day to the Dublin region.
In a move likely to meet strong opposition from west of Ireland interests, the council is seeking to source water from the Shannon to serve the capital’s drinking water needs for the next 70 years.
The council says the project would also supply water to residents and businesses in Meath, Wicklow, Kildare, Offaly and Westmeath. In a statement yesterday, the council said the project would create an “innovative water based eco-park with fishing, boating, cycling, water and leisure sports” in the midlands.
It said 1,000 construction jobs would be created alongside an unspecified number of long-term tourism and recreation jobs in the midlands. Consultants for the council, RPS and Veolia Water, envisage the water being taken from the Shannon at Lough Derg during periods of flood and high flows only.
The water would be stored at the new “eco park” at Garryhinch Bog, from where it could be pumped to Dublin or even back to the Shannon to be used during periods of low flows, according to the consultants.
The Shannon is subject to considerable flooding in winter but navigation hazards are frequently exposed in times of drought.
The average amount of water to be taken from Lough Derg under the proposal is 2 per cent. Consultants say this water currently flows into the Atlantic ocean every day.
Bord na Móna has expressed support for the project which is seen as being in line with its new corporate strategy. The board has recently received approval for new wind generated energy to supply up to 45,000 homes and the consultants claim this could be used to power the proposed midlands eco park. Details of the plans to take water from the Shannon are to be presented to the city council’s strategic policy committee on Thursday.
An environmental impact statement process will be undertaken and a planning application submitted to An Bord Pleanála, which will make the final decision on the project. The project does not require the permission of any local authority in the Shannon region, but would be dependent on funding from the Government.
Shannon Water Protection Alliance chairman Martin McEnroe said yesterday plans would be considered and given a measured response. But he said it made little sense under any national spatial strategy to locate factories and people on the east coast and to pump resources there to follow them.
“What happens if someone wants to open a factory in Athlone and there isn’t the capacity in the water system there” he asked. “This looks like it will prevent people remaining in the midlands where they grew up.”