OPPONENTS OF Dublin City Council’ proposals to source hundreds of millions of litres of water per day from the Shannon vowed they would take their opposition to the project to the European Commission at a public meeting in Dromineer, Co Tipperary last night.
At the meeting which marked the end of initial public consultation on the water abstraction plan, RPS Consulting Engineers confirmed that seven of the 10 options to supply Dublin with water into the future, involve water abstraction from the Shannon and its lakes.
But members of the Shannon Protection Alliance, a group which claims support of more then 100,000 people who live, work and enjoy the Shannon region expressed concern for the continuance of navigation along the river, the maintenance of fish stocks and the impact on tourism. Also among the concerns raised were risks to the Ardnacrusha hydroelectric plant at Limerick, wildlife, lake recreation and local drinking water supplies.
Concern was also raised about issues of “water rights”, and the potential for legal conflict, as happened, the alliance has claimed, in the case of the Colorado river in the USA, during periods of drought.
Speakers opposed to the €600 million scheme, said they were seeking advice from the European Commission to ascertain if any water directives were being infringed and would, if the scheme went ahead, take a case to the European Court if necessary.
However, Gerry Geoghegan of RPS Consulting Engineers maintained the scheme can be compatible with the aims of different Shannon users, and he said that any proposal accepted by Dublin City Council and subsequently approved by the Minister for Environment, would also be subject to the planning laws and a water abstraction licence.
But Mr Geoghegan acknowledged that in the event of low flows following abstraction, the ESB may have to be compensated for the resultant lack of generation potential.
RPS has been retained to report on the options by Dublin City Council and Mr Geoghegan told The Irish Times he expected the report to be ready by this May.
He told last night’s meeting that an emerging option would be to take water from the Shannon in winter, when high levels were frequently a problem, and pump it to two new lakes to be created on cut-away bogs, one near Rochfortbridge, Co Westmeath, and the other near Portarlington, Co Laois, before piping it on to Dublin on a year-round basis.
Currently the Dublin region uses about 560 million litres per day which by 2016 will have risen to 630 million litres and by 2031 to 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.