A PLAN to extract 2,500 cubic metres of water a day from the Sheen river to tackle serious water shortages in Kenmare, one of the country’s top tourist towns, has met vigorous opposition at Kerry County Council.
The proposal to use the Sheen to augment current lake supply is a key part of the €12 million scheme needed for the town.
Opponents who include residents of communities along the Sheen are fearful their land will be sterilised when it comes to farming practices and planning for new houses, want the council to extract the water from surrounding mountain lakes, primarily the Barfinnihy lake.
However, the council says the Barfinnihy option would cost €3.5 million more than the Sheen river option and would require three dams and roadways to be constructed.
“We need water for Kenmare,” Kerry county manager Tom Curran said. “We need it urgently. If you reject this plant today I have nowhere to go.”
The proposal is to extract water from near the mouth of the Sheen, almost at tidal level, and pump the water to a new treatment plant north of the town.
Kenmare is supplied with a maximum of 1,800 cubic metres of water a day while it needs 2,650 and will in future need more than 4,000 cubic metres, consultants have found.
Anglers fear that the extraction of thousands of cubic metres will harm the salmon and sea trout river and its water falls.
“They will have to take the Falls out of the Sheen,” warned councillor Michael Healy-Rae, referring to the well-known Sheen Falls Hotel.
Director of waters services Oliver Ring said: “Kenmare is going to be without water the next dry summer that comes along. We need to get water for Kenmare and this is the best option.”
He said the best solution was to put it before An Bord Pleanála.