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 Region and has identified four potential technically viable options for that new source. A Preliminary Options Appraisal Report, published today and based on an extensive assessment process applied to the four potential options, has found two of the four options remain as potential viable solutions. They are abstraction of water from the lower Shannon at Parteen Basin in Tipperary or desalination of water from the Irish Sea in Dublin. Of these two, the report identifies abstraction of water at Parteen Basin as Irish Water’s emerging preferred option.
Abstraction at Parteen Basin has the least environmental impact of the four options under consideration. It can avail of existing ‘hydro-power’ infrastructure which ensures that 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 that there is very limited impact on the lake. Abstraction from hydro-power facilities is common practice worldwide and the Parteen Basin option will use only a small fraction (approximately 2%) of ‘hydro-power’ water that would otherwise have been used for power generation and then discharged to sea. Importantly, the proposed new scheme also creates multiple opportunities to supply treated water to communities in the vicinity of Parteen Basin and along a route corridor from Parteen Basin to Dublin. Counties to be supplied include Clare, Tipperary, Offaly, Laois, Westmeath, Kildare, Meath and Dublin.
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.
The Water Supply Project is now undergoing rigorous environmental assessment to ensure that all possible relevant factors are examined in reaching a final decision on the best option. As part of that process, a 10 week period of public consultation on the ‘Preliminary Options Appraisal Report’ is now taking place which concludes on 4 February 2016. Any considerations arising from this third consultation process will be evaluated as part of the determination of the final choice of a new water supply for the Eastern and Midlands Region.
John Tierney, Managing Director of Irish Water explained the importance of this project for Ireland’s future 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”, John Tierney explained. “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”, John Tierney said.
Copies of the Preliminary Options Appraisal Report for the Water Supply Project Eastern and Midlands Region can be downloaded from the project website www.watersupplyproject.ie. The site also provides FAQ’s, covering a wide range of project related topics and also details on the previous phases of this project.