Irish Water boss plays down concerns over €1.2bn Shannon plan

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

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nick@limerickleader.ie

Irish Water boss plays down concerns over €1.2bn Shannon plan

Attending the public consultation meeting at the Strand Hotel were Michael Garrick, Tobin Engineers; Claire Coleman, Irish Water and Gerry Geoghegan, Irish Water - Picture Adrian Butler

PLANS to redirect 330m litres a day from the Shannon up to Dublin have been described as the equivalent of “taking a spoonful out of a bath”.

Gerry Geoghegan, who is responsible for managing the huge project made the comments at a public consultation organised by Irish Water in Limerick this week.

As part of €1.2bn proposals, the state utility is planning to build a 170km pipeline from the Parteen basin to Peamount in West Dublin, with the aim to supply the equivalent of 125 Olympic-sized swimming pools to the capital and midlands on a daily basis.

The plans have prompted controversy in Limerick, with the River Shannon Protection Alliance arguing it could hamper development of the Port and impede the flow of the River Shannon.

Irish Water has said with the population of the Greater Dublin area set to rise to over two million by 2050, the move is necessary.

Concerns have been raised here, however, with Limerick’s population also expected to rise.

But Mr Geoghegan said: “Limerick could become a city of one million people, and there would be sufficient water available to it. There is absolutely no risk to Limerick not having enough water available.”

To illustrate this, he said Limerick uses around 60 to 80 cubic metres a day, with the capacity at the Clareview treatment plant for 140m daily.

“Limerick is extremely well catered for,” he added in an interview with media at the Strand Hotel.

He also denied claims that it might harm business at Limerick Port, with claims the flow of the Shannon will be impeded.

“The only impact of the extraction is that the water discharged through [Ardnacrusha] will be two per cent less of the time. It will be the same rate of extraction,” he said.

“In Ardnacrusha, rather than discharging at 100 cubic metres a second for ten hours, they will now discharged for ten or 12 minutes less.

“It will have no impact on the flow and I think the Limerick Harbour Commissioners fully accept this.”

The proposals are unlikely to have any impact on flooding in Limerick, Mr Geoghegan admitted, due to the low nature of the extraction taking place.

“I would love to be able to claim it will. But it is like taking a spoonful out of a bath. It won’t make things any worse, but I don’t think you could claim it as a plus on this project,” he explained.

Among the many submissions to this project was a comprehensive report from Zurich-based solicitor Emma Kennedy, who described the project as being a “white elephant” and a “complete waste of public money”.

Mr Geoghegan countered this, by pointing out three water outages in Dublin in recent years had  cost the Irish economy €78m a day.

Planning permission for the pipeline will be submitted to An Bord Pleanala by the end of 2017, he also confirmed.

Due to the inclement weather Monday, only a small number of people showed up to the consultation.

Mr Geoghegan confirmed they will return in the New Year to talk to more people about the plans.

“We are not trying to develop this project under the radar or hide. We want to do this in full openness and transparently. We are confident in our scheme, and we are confident in its sustainability,” he concluded.