Shannon-to-Dublin water pipeline ‘simply wrong’ says critic

Vocal critic of proposed scheme claims up to 57% of supply will be lost through leaks

A 170km pipe would draw water from the Parteen Basin on the River Shannon in north Tipperary, in a move designed to meet future economic expansion to the east. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

A 170km pipe would draw water from the Parteen Basin on the River Shannon in north Tipperary, in a move designed to meet future economic expansion to the east. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Plans to pump water from the River Shannon to Dublin have been criticised as having the potential for significant waste given the dilapidated state of pipes around the capital.

While Irish Water intends to seek An Bord Pleanála’s go-ahead for the scheme, groups opposed maintain that a major overhaul of Dublin’s existing delivery infrastructure is a far higher priority.

“Over half of the water taken from the River Shannon and expensively treated would be wasted,” according to Emma Kennedy, founder of the consultancy Kennedy Analysis and a vocal critic of the proposed scheme.

The Water Supply Project – Eastern and Midlands Region proposal, which would cost an estimated €1.3 billion, would aim to supply 40 per cent of Ireland’s population by 2025.

A 170km pipe would draw water from the Parteen Basin on the River Shannon in north Tipperary, in a move designed to meet future economic expansion to the east. However, for those steadfastly opposed, it represents just the latest in a series of similar approaches and a symptom of an allegedly Dublin-centric policy. The proposed pipe would also pass under a Tipperary farm owned by her husband’s family.

Ms Kennedy, whose statement was also issued on behalf of the River Shannon Protection Alliance and Fight the Pipe campaigns, said the approach was critically flawed in side-stepping the need to fix pipes in the Dublin region. “Irish Water continues to present a misleading story when it comes to Dublin’s leaks and this report will do nothing to change that,” she said.

A company analyst and former corporate lawyer, Ms Kennedy explained while Irish Water claims a leakage rate of 36 per cent around the capital, it does not take into account leaks on the customer end which would bring the total closer to 57 per cent. She criticised the planned duration for repair works. Her website says she opposed the proposed pipeline “on principle” and on a pro bono basis. “The Shannon Project is simply wrong,” it states.

The Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government has called Ms Kennedy to give her views alongside Irish Water today.

Campaign

Tipperary Independent councillor Séamus Morris, a member of the Fight the Pipe campaign, said the new proposal was the latest in a series over the last 20 years. “This is the same proposal in a different guise but other than that little has changed,” he said in the same joint statement. “Previously, it was sponsored by Dublin City and County Council and this latest publication is further evidence that Irish Water is acting as a de facto arm of an utterly Dublin-centric government.”

Irish Water has rejected the view that fixing existing pipes would be sufficient to meet demand. It argues the project would end overdependence on the Liffey to serve the Dublin region, and provide an additional 330 million litres of water a day.

Dromineer Harbour on Lough Derg. The Water Supply Project – Eastern and Midlands Region proposal, which would cost an estimated €1.3 billion, would aim to supply 40 per cent of Ireland’s population by 2025. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Dromineer Harbour on Lough Derg. The Water Supply Project – Eastern and Midlands Region proposal, which would cost an estimated €1.3 billion, would aim to supply 40 per cent of Ireland’s population by 2025. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The proposal has been welcomed by the Dublin Chamber, representing businesses in the capital. “Irish Water has now identified the best option to meet the eastern and midlands region’s long-term needs,” said Aebhric Mc Gibney, its director of public affairs. “What the people and businesses of Ireland need now is for the procrastinating to stop and for the work to begin as soon as possible.”