PROPOSALS to extract hundreds of millions of litres of water a day from Lough Derg could hamper shipping in Limerick and result in a loss of income to the city and Shannon Foynes Port Company, according to the former harbourmaster of the Estuary, Alan Coghlan.
Captain Coghlan outlined his concerns in July in correspondence with the River Shannon Protection Alliance (RSPA), which is campaigning against plans by Dublin City Council to shore up the capital’s depleting supply with water piped from the Shannon.
Capt Coghlan has since retired from Shannon Foynes but a spokesman for the port company told the Limerick Leader they were aware of his concerns and would be making a formal submission on the proposals in due course.
“I have followed the argument about water extraction at a remove but following the figures on the daily amount of water to be extracted, I have become concerned,” Capt Coghlan stated.
“At Limerick, we rely heavily on the current during ebb tides to scour out the river thereby making it easier to maintain and accessible for deeper drafted ships. If this scheme goes ahead, the net result will be more siltation at Limerick resulting in the reduction of ship size using the dock and consequently a loss of income to both the city and the port company,” he said.
At the Oireachtas environment committee last week, Clare Fianna Fail TD Timmy Dooley said the RSPA had raised an “important point” on how port operations in Limerick might be adversely affected by water extraction.
“It is another of the elements of our economy in the region that benefit from or are affected by changes in the levels of the Shannon River,” Deputy Dooley said.
*A full version of this story was published in the Limerick Leader, print edition, dated November 19, 2011