Limerick TD: Dublin should pay Limerick “for every drop of water it gets from us”

Richard O'Donoghue, Independent. Photo: Cian Reinhardt

DUBLIN should pay Limerick for “taking our water”, a Limerick TD said today.

Independent Deputy Richard O’Donoghue has proposed a metering system be put in place to monetise water which is to be extracted from the River Shannon in Limerick in a major plan to meet a water shortage in Dublin.

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Deputy O’Donoghue made the call as associated legislation is working its way through the Oireachtas: “This legislation, which aims to allow for the extraction of 350 million litres of water per day from Limerick up to Dublin is seriously defective in the first instance, as was raised by the Independent Legal Departments of the Oireachtas, and I want a meter put on the water leaving the River Shannon, as Dublin should pay for ever drop of water it gets from us.”.

“This money should be then reinvested in County Limerick, which would help pay for proper infrastructure, including a quality and dependable water supply, in our towns and villages, which is currently not the case.”

Addressing the Taoiseach, Deputy O’Donoghue asked: “Can you see why we are annoyed at the prospect of water being sent to Dublin when we do not have adequate or proper water in our town and villages. We must safeguard what we have as a precious resource or compensate us for our right to adequate and proper water supply.”

The Taoiseach Micheal Martin has said on this matter that “The Deputy will appreciate that I am not responsible for, and do not have detailed knowledge of, every area in the country in respect of water supply and water quality, but I accept that if a particular district is 16 months without a consistent sustained water supply, that is not acceptable.”

“That issue should have been addressed by now, but I will have to get a report from Irish Water on its perspective on this, what the challenges and problems are and why the issue in Fedamore or Kilteely has not been resolved.”

“It has to be said that Irish Water has made a great deal of progress across the country. The allocation for 2021 is €1.4 billion.”

O’Donoghue went on to say: “I have met with a group from Fedamore, who have been on a Boil Water Notice for the last 15 months. In that time, not one single call did they receive from Irish Water.”

“Another community, Kilteely, have been waiting for a new water line for over three years. Yes, Irish Water did come a few times to plug a hole when there was a leak, instead of the sensible thing and replace the pipe, but I know full well the total cost of these repairs far outweighs what it would have cost if the pipe had been replaced at the start.”

Deputy O’Donoghue said that in his opinion, Irish Water was a “failed entity”.

A spokesman for Irish Water replied that construction, repairing, and upgrading water and wastewater treatment plants, as well as the water and sewer network “requires a multi-billion euro investment programme over many years”.

They said that since 2014 Irish Water “has eliminated boil water notices that affected 1.6 million people”, and that, “in 2020 alone we carried out works to remove almost 80,000 people from boil water notices, benefitting local communities and businesses across the country”.

It is “progressing works to enable the removal of the Boil Water Notice which has been in place for the Fedamore supply in Co Limerick since November 2019”.

They spokesman said Irish Water was “focussed on improving service and reducing leaks across Ireland by fixing or replacing old, damaged water pipes and removing lead pipes on the public network”.

“Under the National Leakage Reduction Programme, Irish Water has invested €500 million in tackling leakage between 2017 and 2021 and plans to continue this high level of investment over the coming years, we are prioritising works that will deliver the biggest water savings to the largest amount of people.”

It said the Kilteely water main – raised by Deputy O’Donoghue – was “is on the current programme for water main replacement in 2021”.

“We are aware that there have been a number of bursts in this area and we are continuing to monitor the situation and carrying out remedial works as needed.”