Shannon water to be piped through Laois in staggering €1.3 billion plan

Offshoots of the pipe could supply Laois and other midland counties

Justin Kelly

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Justin Kelly

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justin.kelly@iconicnews.ie

Water to be piped through Offaly in staggering €1.3 billion plan

Water to be piped through Offaly in staggering €1.3 billion plan

Fixing water leaks in Dublin and the Midlands will not be enough to maintain supply, an Irish Water manager has said on the publication of a €1.3 billion plan to pipe water from the River Shannon to the capital and other Leinster couties.

After a consultation process the company have claimed that the extraction of water from the Parteen basin of the River Shannon will meet urgent water needs of the Eastern and Midlands Region as a Consultation Submissions Report on the Water Supply Project is published.

Irish Water has published a report summarising feedback from the latest consultation on the Water Supply Project, Eastern and Midlands Region where the utility asked for views on its identification of the preferred scheme for a new water supply for the region and on the proposed environmental methodology for the Project Environmental Impact Assessment.

The company says the project will deliver a secure, reliable and sustainable long-term water supply that will be critical to support the eastern and midlands region’s social and economic growth from 2025. It will be the first major comprehensive upgrade to Ireland’s new water source infrastructure in the region in over 60 years.

Forecast demand is 330 million litres of water per day by 2050. More than a third of water is leaking from 9,000km of water pipes and 600,000 connections in Dublin and surrounding counties.

Speaking about the need for the project Sean Laffey, Head of Asset Management in Irish Water, said repairs would not deliver the water needed. 

“The future water needs of Dublin and the Midlands cannot be met by fixing leaks alone," he said.

The plan involves the abstraction of water from the lower River Shannon at Parteen Basin in Co. Tipperary, with water treatment nearby at Birdhill. Treated water would then be piped 170km to a termination point reservoir at Peamount in County Dublin, connecting into the Greater Dublin network.

The company says communities in North Tipperary, Offaly, Laois, Westmeath, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow will also benefit from the project.

Irish Water says future off-shoots from the pipe will enable the development of extra homes and businesses and increase the potential for inward investment, Irish Water have stated.

Apart from the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), the most urgent areas with impending water deficits in the region are the Mullingar supply area of Westmeath and the rapidly expanding area of east Meath bordering Dublin.

As part of this latest Public Consultation, Irish Water held 8 public open days along the route of the pipe; had two briefing days for Oireachtas members and five councillor briefings; held over fifty briefings with stakeholder groups; had 6 landowner information evenings for the 500 landowners along the route; and sought responses from the public through 36 advertisements in regional and national media, press releases and social media.

Irish Water says Over 1,000 stakeholders participated in the consultation – the fourth on this project. The feedback received and Irish Water’s response have been summarised in the Consultation Submissions Report, which is available on the project website www.watersupplyproject.ie

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Speaking on the publication of the report, Head of Asset Management in Irish Water, Sean Laffey, said

“The recently published National Planning Framework confirmed the urgent need for a new long-term water supply source for the Eastern and Midlands Region by the mid-2020s, to provide for projected growth up to 2050 and to ensure that the region has a safe, secure and resilient water supply for the region."

"Public participation and landowner engagement have been an essential part of the Water Supply Project, Eastern and Midlands Region development since the project began. Feedback received during the public consultation open days, landowner evenings and stakeholder meetings, and through our Landowner Liaison Officers, as well as by post, email and over the phone has all been considered and is reflected in the Consultation Submissions Report, he added.

"A wide range of issues were raised by the public including the need for the project; alternative options; planning and construction; environmental issues; and the cost and funding. We would like to sincerely thank everyone who took the time to participate. Their engagement and input has helped us develop a long-term strategic investment project that we believe is environmentally sustainable and will bring economic benefits to the whole country.”

"The review of the project, its alignment with the National Planning Framework and analysis of all of the feedback has confirmed definitively that existing water supply sources do not have the capacity or resilience to meet future requirements of homes and businesses in Dublin and the midlands."

"Forecast population and economic growth will generate a demand for an additional 330 million litres of water per day by 2050 to give both the GDA and the midlands regions the resilience and reliability of service that is essential to inspire public confidence and continue to attract economic opportunity."

Irish Water says has updated the project documentation to reflect all relevant new data available since the original Project Need Report was published in March 2015. This takes full account of the Census 2016 data, National Planning Framework, the forthcoming draft Irish Water National Water Resources Plan, and the recently published River Basin Management Plan.

“The future water needs of Dublin and the Midlands cannot be met by fixing leaks alone. Leakage in the Greater Dublin Area network is at 36% and there are 9,000km of water pipes with over 600,000 connections. Irish Water is rolling out a comprehensive Leakage Reduction Programme which combines active leak detection with customer side monitoring supported by targeted mains replacement of the leakiest pipes based on burst frequency.

"This industry standard approach is the most technically and economically achievable way of managing network leakage and will deliver major savings through a number of investment cycles. However, this cannot keep pace with growth needs. This is before allowing for extreme weather events such as the drought that affected the midlands last summer or the multiple bursts and water shortages that followed Storm Emma.

"Irish Water is now satisfied beyond doubt that the preferred Parteen Basin option is the correct scheme and its delivery is critical for the future. This option will bring the widest benefit to the greatest number of people with the least environmental impact and in the most cost effective manner. The Water Supply Project is a major priority for Irish Water as we move towards the submission of a planning application in 2019,” concluded Mr Laffey.