Friday, 29 April 2011

Protest grows to stop Dublin 'plundering' Shannon water

A GROUP opposed to controversial plans by Dublin City Council to extract massive volumes of water from the river Shannon to boost dwindling supplies in the capital has stepped up its campaign.

The Shannon Protection Alliance is to establish another branch of its group at a public meeting in Dromineer, Co Tipperary, this week. The organisation has already established branches in Athlone and Limerick as part of its ongoing campaign to block plans to extract water from the Shannon at a rate of 350 million litres per day from Lough Derg.

The alliance says this roughly equates to the amount of water which leaks from the Dublin water delivery system.

The group has called on the Dublin local authority to fix the leaks and conserve water instead of “plundering” the Shannon, which supplies 1.5 million people living in its catchment area.

In July 2010, consultants RPS and Veolia recommended a €470 million scheme which would see the water pumped to the Dublin region and commuter towns along the way via a reservoir and treatment plant near Portarlington. The original plan was to extract the water from Lough Ree but following massive political pressure from local communities in the Athlone area, the plan was changed and Lough Derg became the favoured option.

Alliance members are worried for the future of the Shannon and its communities, and believe the controversial scheme is unnecessary and if built would prove to be “an expensive white elephant”.

“Its proposers use unrealistic Celtic Tiger-era water demand forecasts to justify it. Greater Dublin’s realistic needs can be met by a combination of fixing leaks currently wasting 30 per cent of treated water, tapping proven local groundwater resources, applying demand management measures such as metering/charging, reusing grey water and harvesting rainwater,” group spokesman Joc Sanders said.

The alliance plans to campaign against the proposals through the media, political institutions, An Bord Pleanála and European institutions, Mr Sanders added.

According to alliance chairman Gerry Siney, the controversial plans have not considered the needs of communities living along the Shannon.

“The future needs of Shannon-side communities for water have neither been quantified nor considered. Good water supplies are as important as airport and road infrastructure in attracting IT, bio-tech and pharma industries – we dare not risk the future economic development of our midwest region. Why not move new development to the water resource, rather than the other way around?” he asked. “We don’t seek to selfishly deny Dublin water, but the current proposals are not the right way to go,” he added.

The meeting will take place this Thursday, April 28th at the Lough Derg Yacht Club in Dromineer.

Irish Times

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