WATER abstraction from the Lower Shannon at the Parteen Basin has been identified as the “emerging preferred option” to supply a new source of water for the Eastern and Midlands regions.
Details of the emerging preferred option are to be be unveiled this Thursday by Irish Water. However, The Clare Champion can reveal that a report published by Irish Water has found the abstraction of water at Parteen Basin has the least environmental impact of the four options considered.
It can avail of existing hydro-power infrastructure which ensures the proposed water abstraction can be implemented within existing normal operating water levels and with no impact on statutory flow requirements in the Lower Shannon, meaning there is limited impact on the lake.
Abstraction from hydropower facilities is common practice worldwide and the Parteen Basin option will use a small fraction, about 2%, of hydropower water, which would otherwise have been used for power generation and then discharged to sea.
Irish Water claim the proposed scheme also creates multiple opportunities to supply treated water to communities in the vicinity of Parteen Basin and along a route corridor from the Parteen Basin to Dublin. Counties to be supplied include Clare, Tipperary, Offaly, Laois, Westmeath, Kildare, Meath and Dublin.
Publication of this report is expected to create a wave of protest from the River Shannon Protection Alliance (RSPA) and Clare county councillors, who have opposed the abstraction of water from Lough Derg since it was first mooted by Dublin City Council.
The RSPA has claimed it will cost an estimated €621 million to facilitate the abstraction of over 350 million litres of water daily from the Parteen Basin.
Councillors have previously warned that projections forecasting even bigger water shortages in the Midlands and Dublin region in 35 years time would require a substantial increase in the proposed water abstraction from Lough Derg.
A 10-week period of public consultation on the Preliminary Options Appraisal Report will get underway this Friday but this development will be viewed as a major setback to those opposed to water abstraction.
Over the past two years, Irish Water, through extensive research and two phases of public consultation, has considered the need for a new source of water supply for the Eastern and Midlands regions and has identified four technically viable options for that new source.
The Preliminary Options Appraisal Report is based on an extensive assessment process applied to the four potential options and has found that two of the four options remain as viable solutions.
They are the abstraction of water from the Lower Shannon at the Parteen Basin in Tipperary, or desalination of water from the Irish Sea in Dublin. Of these two, the report will identify abstraction of water at Parteen Basin as Irish Water’s emerging preferred option.
Over 40% of Ireland’s population lives in the Midlands and Eastern regions and work has been ongoing for eight years to identify a sustainable water source to enable the region to grow into the future.
The Preliminary Options Appraisal Report concludes that desalination, as the only other potentially viable option at this stage of the project, is much less suitable than the Parteen Basin option, due primarily to higher costs, being a Dublin-centric solution and being a less environmentally friendly option with a considerably higher energy requirement, chemical usage and brine discharge.
Once the third consultation process ends on February 4, 2016, any considerations will be evaluated as part of the determination of the final choice of a new water supply for the Eastern and Midlands regions.
John Tierney, managing director of Irish Water, explained the importance of this project for the country’s economic growth.
“The existing water supply sources for the Eastern and Midlands regions do not have the capacity or resilience to meet demand for an additional 330 million litres of water per day, which increased population and economic growth will generate by 2050.
“A new source must be identified,” he said. “This project is not simply about finding a solution for Dublin’s future water supply, it is also about ensuring that the entire country can thrive by facilitating growth in the Eastern and Midlands where 40% of our population lives.”
“Irish Water is working to deliver the most efficient and cost-effective solution to this challenge which can be implemented with minimal environmental impact. Parteen Basin, the emerging preferred option, can deliver a sustainable water supply with the least environmental impact, while benefiting the widest number of domestic and commercial water customers throughout the region,” Mr Tierney stated.
Copies of the report can be downloaded from www.watersupplyproject.ie.