by Alan Jacques
PUBLIC meetings are to be held over a plan to extract water from the Shannon to serve Dublin’s future water demand.
A preliminary report by Irish Water has identified abstraction of water at Parteen Basin on the southern end of Lough Derg as the preferred option.
Green Party General Election candidate for Limerick City, James Gaffney, is calling for public meetings over the proposal to divert water at a rate of hundreds of millions of litres a day to Dublin for domestic, commercial, and industrial consumption.
Mr Gaffney described Irish Water’s consultation process as inadequate, and said there were a range of questions that needed answers before the plan could go ahead.
“This proposal by Irish Water is by no means a minor one, and they need to fully explain their thinking to the people who will be affected by the plan,” he told the Limerick Post.
“They are carrying out an environmental assessment, but we really don’t know what the implications of water extraction will be over ten, twenty or thirty years. We can’t be expected to make a submission while all the facts aren’t known.”
According to Irish Water, the existing water supply sources for the Eastern and Midlands regions do not have the capacity to meet demand for an additional 330 million litres of water a day, which increased population and economic growth will generate by 2050. A new source, they say, must be identified.
“Irish Water is working to deliver the most efficient and cost-effective solution that can be implemented with minimal environmental impact. Parteen Basin can deliver a sustainable water supply with the least environmental impact while benefiting the widest number of domestic and commercial water customers throughout the region,” a spokeswoman for the water utility explained.
However, the River Shannon Protection Alliance (RSPA) maintain that such a proposal would degrade the Shannon as extraction volumes increase and water levels drop.
They also claim that Irish Water now see the Shannon as a “cash cow”, and seem intent on milking it for all it’s worth.
“The Shannon is a valuable asset. Vital assets and drivers of economic development have gone east in the past, and there is a real possibility that the same can happen to the Shannon. The opportunity to prevent this from happening is in our hands, but we must act to prevent the threat”, an RSPA spokesman told the Limerick Post.