Saturday 22 November 2008

Dublin water proposals to be released today

PROPOSALS TO pump water from the Shannon river's lakes to Dublin to serve the city's water needs will be released for public consultation by Dublin City Council today.

The public will be invited to make submissions in relation to 10 options the council has put forward to prevent Dublin from running out of water. The current water supplies will not be sufficient to serve the city beyond 2016.

Of these 10 options, seven involve taking the equivalent of hundreds of millions of litres of water from the Shannon to serve Dublin every day.

The council said it would not select a preferred option until after the public consultation process - which ends on February 27th - was completed and the various submissions assessed.

However, the documentation being released for public consultation evaluates each option and either discounts or gives a negative weighting to the three non-Shannon-related options.

The most positive rating is given to the option which involves piping water from Lough Derg to a disused Bord na Móna bog in the midlands, where it would be stored in the form of an artificial lake, for use as required by the Dublin region and parts of the midlands.

The three options which do not involve the Shannon and its lakes are desalination, the use of ground-water supplies in the Fingal-Kildare areas, and the use of water from the upper river Liffey in conjunction with water from the river Barrow.

The council has effectively dismissed the latter two options, stating that they "cannot provide required quantities of water". Desalination is technically feasible, the council said, but has been ranked as one of the least positive options.

From the point of view of the technical process, desalination is ranked as a negative option.

In environmental terms it is ranked as negative to neutral; in socio-economic terms it is ranked as negative, and in economic terms it is ranked as very negative.

The Lough Derg and bog storage option has no negative effects, according to the council's assessment.

Two bogs have been identified as suitable for storage - one near Rochfortbridge, Co Westmeath, and the other near Portarlington, Co Laois. The artificial lakes could be used to create "midlands environmental parks", which would generate tourism for the surrounding areas.

The other Shannon options involve taking water from Lough Ree, Lough Derg and the Parteen Basin, with combinations of bog storage, "impoundment" - water storage at a location in the Wicklow mountains, or direct pumping to Dublin.

The greater Dublin region currently uses about 560 million litres per day; by 2016 this will have risen to 630 million litres and by 2031 it will have a demand for 800 million litres. However, in order to ensure continuity of supply the council said it needs an extra 300 million litres in addition to what is provided by its existing water sources.

Executive manager with the council Tom Leahy said the city cannot be allowed to run out of water. "We have a looming situation in 2016. Currently the supply- demand balance is on a knife edge."

The council is likely to receive large numbers of negative submissions, particularly from Shannon area politicians, environmental bodies and community groups.

The Irish Times

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