DUBLIN CITY Council is to seek approval next week for a plan to pump 350 million litres of water per day from the river Shannon to serve the capital’s drinking water needs for the next 70 years.
Councillors will be asked by the city manager to endorse the scheme, – which will cost about €500 million – and are expected to do so, before seeking Government approval and permission from An Bord Pleanála. However, it does not require the permission of any local authority in the Shannon region.
The proposal was one of several options put forward in a 2006 report commissioned by the council from consultant engineers RPS to meet the Dublin region’s ever-growing demands for water.
The Dublin region, which encompasses parts of Kildare and Wicklow, uses about 540 million litres a day, but is only able to produce 518 million litres.
The council is working to increase the capacity of its own water facilities, but says it needs the new source if it is to meet rising demands.
Dublin city manager John Tierney said yesterday the new water source would not only serve household water needs, but would be vital to attracting businesses to the region.
The Shannon proposal has met strong opposition from communities in the region, and local and national politicians – including Westmeath-based Fianna Fáil TD, Mary O’Rourke, who in 2007 described the proposal as a “rape of our water”.
The Shannon Protection Alliance group, which includes boating enthusiasts, anglers and farmers, was also established to oppose the scheme.
Several proposals for taking water from the Shannon for Dublin have been considered, but the one expected to be put to city councillors involves piping water from one of the Shannon lakes to a disused Bord na Móna bog in the midlands, where it would be stored in the form of an artificial lake, from where water would be taken by pipe to Dublin.
Mr Tierney said the Shannon was a national resource. “We see this as a national project. If water is brought from the Shannon to Dublin it will provide for economic growth. Dublin is crucially important as the economic driver of the country.”
The abstraction of 350 million litres of water daily from the Shannon would have no detrimental effects on the river or on water supplies for counties surrounding the Shannon, Mr Tierney added.
“The 350 million litres represents a maximum of just 3 per cent of the water flowing out of the Shannon water sources every day,” he said.
Due to the scale of the project, it is likely to be 2020 before it would be completed. The capacity of the city’s largest reservoir at Ballymore Eustace is due to increase from 275 million litres to 318 million by the end of this year. A project is also under way to increase the capacity of the Leixlip reservoir.