Water and the capital

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Sir, – The issue of water shortage, particularly in the Dublin area, is currently exercising the minds of many.

The proposal of Irish Water to bring water from the Shannon at Limerick to Dublin will face many obstacles, objections and will possibly fail at the planning stage.

The question must be asked; does Irish Water have a Plan B , in the event that the Shannon proposal does not progress? If Irish Water does have a Plan B, perhaps it should inform the public.

Has it considered the construction of a desalination plant in the Dublin region? Such a facility could be built and operated at a fraction of the cost of the Shannon project, which is being estimated to cost up to €4 billion.

A desalination plant could produce sufficient potable water to supply a million people, for a cost in the region of half a billion euro.

The timeframe for the planning, design and construction of such a plant would be far less than the Shannon project, would guarantee a constant water supply , irrespective of whatever droughts might come our way.

I believe this is an option that Irish Water and the populace at large should consider. – Yours, etc,

J VINCENT CARROLL,

Rathfarnham,

Dublin 14.

Sir, – At last, a voice of reason in the wilderness! Dr. Marty Sanders has, with engineering precision, highlighted the real issue regarding water – the current and historical reluctance to tackle the leaks in the distribution mains (July 10th). The view was expressed in your letters page that consumer metering would identify leaks in the system.

Like the water infrastructure, that view does not hold water. In 1999/2000 it was estimated that more than 30 per cent of treated water leaked from the network before it reached the consumer. I believe that the current percentage that leaks is more than 40 per cent. How would consumer water-metering identify those leaks?

On the basis of Dublin City Council’s current figure of 540 million litres per day extracted and processed, a 30 per cent loss would equal an annual loss of almost 60 billion litres, which would water quite a few gardens and wash several cars.

Whose incompetence or neglect is responsible for that loss, and what has been the cost?

With the extra water proposed to be pumped from the Shannon, would someone please calculate the unconscionable additional wastage, and its cost, if the distribution network is not fixed first? – Yours, etc,

JOHN McENEANEY,

Celbridge,

Co Kildare.

Sir, – I share Marty Sanders’s bafflement at the idea of pumping water from the Shannon to Dublin at huge expense and effort for half of it to run out of the pipes and into the Irish Sea.

It is glaringly obvious that we should fix the leaks first.

Without leaks we would have twice as much available water, more than enough to cope with years of population growth and economic expansion.

We can fix the leaks for a fraction of the cost of this “Shannon scheme”, we can do it more quickly and prevent escalating running costs.

Why have we opted for an alternative course?

There must be remarkable forces at work that we would choose the costly alternative at a time when we can’t afford it.

Who benefits? – Yours, etc,

PAT MURPHY,

Greystones,

Co Wicklow.

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