'River is seen as a cash cow and Dublin want to milk it'

EXTRACTION PLANS:  OPPOSITION MOUNTS TO IRISH WATER'S PROPOSALS FOR RIVER SHANNON

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

'River is seen as a cash cow and Dublin want to milk it'

CONTROVERSIAL plans to pump 300 million litres of water daily out of the Shannon for Dublin and the Midlands could present an “ecological disaster”, an opposition group to Irish Water’s plans has warned.

Speaking to the Limerick Leader, Gerry Siney, chairman of the River Shannon Protection Alliance, said this is the “third attempt in the past 10 years to commandeer the Shannon” and warned that the plans by Irish Water to pump water from the Parteen basin on the outskirts of Limerick have to be stopped.

“Dublin has all the water it needs both now and into the future. Saying that the water is needed to prevent severe drops in supply is a red herring. The pipeline into the Shannon is the soft option, because the piping in Dublin has suffered decades of neglect and under-investment,” the Castletroy resident told the Leader.

Mr Siney urged that solutions closer to home should be first examined instead of “tapping the supply in the Shannon”.

He described the current plans as “ludicrous” and said the figure of pumping 300 million litres a day could present the thin end of the wedge if the plans are allowed to progress.

“They will increase it exponentially. It could be the death knell of the River Shannon as we know it. This is a license to waste, and poses huge risks to the environment.

“It could create an ecological disaster, as the levels of the Shannon will drop, and aquatic life is very sensitive to fluctuating levels of water especially in the summer period. It could also pose economic risks to tourism in terms of angling and so on. It could also amount to a violation of the EU Water Framework directive. I would like to convince the powers that be that this madness has to stop.”

Irish Water is proposing the construction of a 165-kilometre pipeline from a reservoir on the Tipperary side, to the south of Lough Derg. They claim that this option will have the least environmental impact of the four it examined and is close to the Ardnacrusha hydro-electric power station.

Jerry Grant, of Irish Water, said that the detailed design process will start after a period of public consultation. A 10-week public consultation process is expected to begin shortly, which will include “intensive engagement with stakeholders right around the Shannon.”

Former Mayor of Limerick, Independent councillor John Gilligan, said the council voted unanimously against these plans, which he described as “shocking and laughable”, in the past.

“I am just absolutely disgusted about this, but not surprised. Irish Water is saying there will be a consultation process, but they will listen to people’s objections with bored expressions on their faces, dismiss them and go back and do exactly what they were going to do anyway. It’s about time our TDs stood up for Limerick for once and for all, and put their party politics aside. I’ll be putting forward a motion at the next council meeting to re-iterate our stance on this,” he said.