Limerick councillors hear fears over €1.2bn 'mega-project' to pump Shannon

Jess Casey

Reporter:

Jess Casey

The project proposing to pump 300 million litres of water 172 km daily from the River Shannon to Dublin, Limericks councillors heard

The project proposing to pump 300 million litres of water 172 km daily from the River Shannon to Dublin, Limericks councillors heard

A €1.2bn “mega-project” proposing to pump 300 million litres of water 172 km daily from the River Shannon to Dublin is not needed and will “squander” taxpayer money, Limerick City and County councillors have heard.

Irish Water plans to build a pipeline from the Parteen basin to Peamount in West Dublin, with the aim of supplying water to the capital and the midlands on a daily basis. 

However, the River Shannon Protection Alliance (RSPA) believe the figures used to calculate Irish Water’s proposal do not make sense and that viable alternatives have not been explored by the company. 

“This public money could instead pay for a great deal of nurses, hospital beds, not to mention houses,” director of the RSPA Gerard Siney told councillors at a meeting of the Environment Strategic Policy Committee (SPC). 

Dublin’s water pipes are so corroded that 57% of its water leaks through holes in pipes and is never used, he said, adding that the group believes the project will eventually cost closer to €2bn, he claimed.

The Kennedy Analysis, a forensic analysis of the project carried out by solicitor Emma Kennedy, argues there is no need for the project and that Irish Water has made errors in its calculations, Mr Siney added. 

RSPA also fears that the scheme will increase the amount of water it takes from the River Shannon as time goes by. 

“This 300 million litres is the thin end of the wedge. Once they have the pipes in the water they can keep taking more and more.”

Viable alternatives to the scheme such as desalination plants have also not been explored adequately, Mr Siney added. 

“What we need now is a completely independent assessment from an expert,” he said adding that he believes the assessor should be based overseas in order for the assessment to be completely independent.

Cllr John Loftus, who was a desalination engineer by trade, said the process would be a more sensible and cost effective alternative than the proposed pipeline, ideal for Dublin given its proximity to the sea.  “As far as I’m concerned it's not about the cost but spend the money on fixing leaks instead or look at other alternatives such as desalination.  We have the River Shannon running through our city and the tidal effects haven’t even entered their mind.”

Cllr John Gilligan also voiced his concerns over the proposed project, adding that any plans have to be based on logic and what's best environmentally. “I don’t want to pump the River Shannon to Dublin to see it run down the Liffey.”

Cllr James Collins queried if the money would be better spent on promoting rainwater conservation or other similar schemes. 

“Surely, it would be more economical if Dublin needed water, to use incentives for people to conserve water,” he asked. 

“To spend two billion to pump water from Shannon to Dublin and for most of it to be flushed away, surely it would make more sense to put that money towards promoting conservation.” 

The council’s physical development directorate Kieran Lehane said that the project would be subject to a full environmental impact assessment and approval by An Bord Pleanala. 

A decision was made to invite  Irish Water to meet with the councillors at the next meeting of the environmental SPC.