Shannon pipeline: ‘The battle has only just begun’

The campaign against Irish Water’s plans to extract water from the River Shannon to pump to Dublin has only just begun, those leading the fight to prevent the plan have warned.

Speaking following a Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government meeting on the matter, the group said it felt “energised and emboldened” by the support it has received over recent days.

Gerry Siney, River Shannon Protection Alliance chairman, stressed that the pipeline would be the third biggest public infrastructure project ever undertaken in Ireland.

“Despite the best efforts of Irish Water to blindside the public with false facts, our message is getting through – principally around the fact that 57% of all water in the Dublin system leaks through its ageing pipes.

We have had a huge number of declarations of support from members of the public across the country, including large numbers from Dublin who know that replacing the pipes is inevitable.

“They’re essentially asking ‘why not do it now and avoid spending €1.3 billion bringing water from the Shannon?'” he said.

The alliance said members will now regroup over the coming days and organise its next steps. Group members have emphasised that they won’t stop fighting until the proposal is off the table.

Outages

Emma Kennedy of Kennedy Analysis, one of a number of entities coming together to oppose the proposal, claims that Irish Water continues to make “misleading and false statements” in an effort to support its bid to bring a pipe 170km across the country.

Irish Water’s CEO Gerry Grant has at least now accepted – albeit only when asked to clarify in a media interview yesterday – that its 38% leakage figure only covered network leakage – it didn’t include a drop of leakage from the customer’s side of the stopcock.

“Once that leakage is included, Dublin’s total leakage is almost certainly at least 57%. That’s an undeniable and staggering amount.

“But, as bad as that is, a point that is being lost in the last two days is that the ancient pipes are the single key cause of Dublin’s outages,” she said.

Reflecting on the water outages resulting from Storm Emma earlier this year, Kennedy claimed that businesses and households will continue to be at risk until Irish Water undertakes “an overhaul” of Dublin’s pipes.

“It was proposed at yesterday’s meeting that an independent analysis should take place to clarify the facts. This is something that we have been looking for all along; but Irish Water has avoided any discussion on.

“Based on the inaccuracies I heard from them yesterday, I suspect they will continue to avoid that option,” she said.

Farmer and Fight the Pipe group member Liam Minehan – whose Co. Tipperary farm will be directly affected by the installation of the 7ft diameter pipe – said: “I could just about accept this pipe if it was needed; but, I cannot when it’s not needed.

Sometimes you have to pinch yourself when you think that they are seriously trying to get a proposal across the line to pump all this water  170km across the country for 300 million litres a day to be spilt through creaking pipes.

“That’s the equivalent of sending 12,000 water tankers a day into Dublin only for the water to be poured down the drains. Even thinking about the amount of time that would take is mind boggling,” he said.

Irish Water report

Earlier this week, Irish Water published a key consultation report summarising feedback on the project.

The report states how the project aims to deliver a “secure, reliable and sustainable” water supply that will be “critical to support the eastern and midlands region’s social and economic growth from 2025”.

The project will involve the abstraction of water from the lower River Shannon at Parteen Basin in Co. Tipperary, with water treatment nearby at Birdhill.

Treated water would then be piped 170km to a termination point reservoir at Peamount in Co. Dublin; this would then connect into the greater Dublin network.

Communities in north Tipperary, Offaly, Laois, Westmeath, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow will also benefit from the project with possible future off-shoots from the pipe that will enable the development of extra homes and businesses and increase the potential for inward investment, the Irish Water report explains.

Apart from the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), the most urgent areas with impending water deficits in the region are the Mullingar supply area of Co. Westmeath and the rapidly expanding area of east Meath bordering the GDA.

Demand

A statement from Irish Water said: “The review of the project, its alignment with the National Planning Framework and analysis of all of the feedback has confirmed definitively that existing water supply sources do not have the capacity or resilience to meet future requirements of homes and businesses in Dublin and the midlands.

“Forecast population and economic growth will generate a demand for an additional 330 million litres of water per day by 2050 to give both the GDA and the midlands regions the resilience and reliability of service that is essential to inspire public confidence and continue to attract economic opportunity.”