Campaigners are to step up their protest against proposals by Dublin City Council to draw water from the Shannon.
The Shannon Protection Alliance (SPA) is planning a poster campaign next month in the Lough Ree area in opposition to any attempt by the council to pump water from the lake to Dublin, a distance of 107 kilometres.
Dublin City Council is currently considering either pumping water from the Shannon or a desalination programme using water from Dublin Bay in response to an expected shortage in the next decade. It maintains that these are the only viable options to cope with demand for water in the coming decades.
The council estimates that the population of the greater Dublin area will reach 2.2 million within a decade and 350 million extra litres of water a day will be needed.
The alliance, which involves fishermen, guest-house owners and cruise hire companies, said it has extracted promises from all the candidates standing in the Westmeath-Longford constituency that they will oppose any attempt to extract water from the lake.
Alliance spokesman Michael Barrett, who owns the Lakeside Marina on the shores of Lough Ree, said they are fearful that the proposal will lead to dangerous water levels in the years ahead.
"For the last three years, we've been down to the minimum water levels in July, August and September, barely enabling boats to cruise or to allow Lough Ree to function as a tourist lake.
Dublin City Council deputy engineer Tom Leahy said the cost of either the Shannon or desalination options would be about €600 million at current prices, but the operating costs of desalination at approximately €100 million a year would be four times that of taking water from the Shannon.
He said the amount of water involved would be equal to only 2 per cent of the volume of water in the Shannon in a given year.
© 2007 The Irish Times