Review into whether Dublin should get water from the Shannon due by December

Utilities regulator examining whether Irish Water evaluated all relevant options

Irish Water plans to build a 170-kilometre pipeline from the River Shannon in Tipperary to Dublin to combat water shortages in the capital, but campaigning lawyer and investment analyst Emma Kennedy says their case is full of holes.

 

An independent evaluation of the Shannon pipeline project by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) is due to be completed by the end of 2019.

Minister for Planning Eoghan Murphy ordered the review after opponents of the project highlighted its cost, what they claimed would be likely negative effects on the Shannon river system and a failure to address Dublin’s chronic water leakage problems.

The Water Supply Project – Eastern and Midlands Region has been officially costed at between €1.2 billion and €1.3 billion.

Irish Water says extraction of water from the Shannon at Parteen Basin, Co Tipperary, is best suited “to meet urgent water needs” of greater Dublin and heavily-populated midland towns along the 170km pipeline route. The proposed project would see 330 million litres of water extracted daily from the Shannon south of Lough Derg.

The CRU is evaluating if the utility “appropriately examined all relevant options”, including the potential contribution from groundwater sources, and gave “due and appropriate consideration to key issues raised” under a consultation process.

In addition, it is examining the assessment of available water supply, estimates of future domestic and non-domestic demand and allowance “in relation to headroom and peaking factors” to ensure a reliable supply for the region.

Specifically, it has been asked to examine Irish Water’s leakage reduction targets and the extent to which – combined with other conservation measures - they could reasonably address protected water needs for the area within the timeframes required.

Consultant Emma Kennedy has challenged justification “for a huge cross-country pipeline to pump yet more water into Dublin’s pipes without addressing the root of the problem”.

Planning permission for the project cannot proceed until the Government introduces new legislation to allow for major water extraction.

With a likelihood of costs escalating, it is unclear if a “guaranteed maximum price” will be applied to the project.