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Irish Water confirms River Shannon (Parteen Option) to meet urgent water needs of Eastern and Midlands

The consultations submissions report on the Water Supply Project has been published today.

Irish Water has published a report summarising feedback from the latest consultation on the Water Supply Project, Eastern and Midlands Region where the utility asked for views on its identification of the preferred scheme for a new water supply for the region and on the proposed environmental methodology for the Project Environmental Impact Assessment. The Project will deliver a secure, reliable and sustainable long-term water supply that will be critical to support the eastern and midlands region’s social and economic growth from 2025. It will be the first major comprehensive upgrade to Ireland’s new water source infrastructure in the region in over 60 years.

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

As part of this latest Public Consultation, Irish Water held 8 public open days along the route of the pipe; had two briefing days for Oireachtas members and 5 councillor briefings; held over fifty briefings with stakeholder groups; had 6 landowner information evenings for the 500 landowners along the route; and sought responses from the public through 36 advertisements in regional and national media, press releases and social media.

Over 1,000 stakeholders participated in the consultation – the fourth on this project. The feedback received and Irish Water’s response have been summarised in the Consultation Submissions Report, which is available on the project website www.watersupplyproject.ie

Speaking today on the publication of the report, Head of Asset Management in Irish Water, Sean Laffey, said

“The recently published National Planning Framework confirmed the urgent need for a new long-term water supply source for the Eastern and Midlands Region by the mid-2020s, to provide for projected growth up to 2050 and to ensure that the region has a safe, secure and resilient water supply for the region.  Public participation and landowner engagement have been an essential part of the Water Supply Project, Eastern and Midlands Region development since the project began. Feedback received during the public consultation open days, landowner evenings and stakeholder meetings, and through our Landowner Liaison Officers, as well as by post, email and over the phone has all been considered and is reflected in the Consultation Submissions Report. A wide range of issues were raised by the public including the need for the project; alternative options; planning and construction; environmental issues; and the cost and funding. We would like to sincerely thank everyone who took the time to participate. Their engagement and input has helped us develop a long-term strategic investment project that we believe is environmentally sustainable and will bring economic benefits to the whole country.”

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.

Irish Water has updated the project documentation to reflect all relevant new data available since the original Project Need Report was published in March 2015. This takes full account of the Census 2016 data, National Planning Framework, the forthcoming draft Irish Water National Water Resources Plan, and the recently published River Basin Management Plan.

Speaking about the need for the project in the light of a number of submissions, Sean Laffey said.

“The future water needs of Dublin and the Midlands cannot be met by fixing leaks alone. Leakage in the Greater Dublin Area network is at 36% and there are 9,000km of water pipes with over 600,000 connections. Irish Water is rolling out a comprehensive Leakage Reduction Programme which combines active leak detection with customer side monitoring supported by targeted mains replacement of the leakiest pipes based on burst frequency. This industry standard approach is the most technically and economically achievable way of managing network leakage and will deliver major savings through a number of investment cycles. However, this cannot keep pace with growth needs. This is before allowing for extreme weather events such as the drought that affected the midlands last summer or the multiple bursts and water shortages that followed Storm Emma. Irish Water is now satisfied beyond doubt that the preferred Parteen Basin option is the correct scheme and its delivery is critical for the future. This option will bring the widest benefit to the greatest number of people with the least environmental impact and in the most cost effective manner. The Water Supply Project is a major priority for Irish Water as we move towards the submission of a planning application in 2019.”

For more information please contact Press Office on 0871458896

 Notes to editors

Summary of Consultation Submissions Report Feedback

The “Consultation Submissions Report” summarises, by theme, the issues raised and feedback provided by interested stakeholders, members of the public and directly impacted landowners during the consultation. The following 12 themes are discussed and responded to in detail in the report:

1. The need for the project 7. Environmental issues
2. Benefiting corridor 8. Water
3. Alternative options 9. Land use
4. Planning 10. Project cost and funding
5. Pipeline 11. Public consultation
6. Construction and operation 12. Community gain

Irish Water has considered carefully the submissions and queries received, and to the views expressed by stakeholders throughout the consultation period. The report also outlines Irish Water’s responses to the issues and views expressed in these submissions and discussions.

Need and alternatives

The evidence and assessments clearly show that a long-term and sustainable source of water is needed for the Eastern and Midlands Region to provide future generations with a secure water supply.

It is acknowledged that raw water sources for the Greater Dublin Area will be at capacity by 2026, and that water saved from fixing leaks under the Leakage Reduction Programme will not be enough to meet future demand. The need for the WSP has been further confirmed by the results of the 2016 Census and the National Planning Framework which estimates a population growth of 490,000 – 540,000 additional people in the region by 2040.

By 2050, population and business growth in the Eastern and Midlands Region is forecast to require in excess of 300 million litres of water per day in addition to supplies available from existing sources.

Assessment of options over many years has identified that the Parteen Basin option delivers the widest benefit to the greatest number of people with the least environmental impact and in the most cost effective manner. The entire population of the region, and all sectors of the economy, will benefit through augmenting and diversifying water supply sources and strengthening their connectivity to provide a reliable and secure water supply enabling best practice standards of service.

The recently published River Basin Management Plan outlines the government’s intentions for implementation of the water abstraction obligations of the Water Framework Directive. New legislation to be introduced in 2018 will establish the Water Abstraction Registration and Licensing Authority. As a result of the proposals contained within the River Basin Management Plan, the WSP project will now be required to make an application for an abstraction licence in addition to the planning application to An Bord Pleanála.

An Environmental Impact Assessment Report and Natura Impact Statement are currently being prepared. These reports will present the results of ongoing environmental investigations and consultations. The reports will also outline an impact assessment of the infrastructural works associated with the project, on the environment and where required will identify appropriate prevention and mitigation measures. Through the assessment of the Parteen Basin scheme, these reports will identify all relevant impacts of the project along with outlining appropriate prevention and alleviation measures where necessary.

The full “Consultation Submissions Report” is available here (insert link to report).

Further information on the Water Supply Project can be found on the dedicated project website http://www.watersupplyproject.ie/