Frequently Asked Questions
The WSP comprises the abstraction of water from the lower River Shannon at Parteen Basin in County Tipperary, with water treatment nearby at Birdhill. Treated water will be piped 170km to a termination point reservoir at Peamount in south County Dublin, connecting into the Greater Dublin network. The WSP will also allow for supplies of treated water to be made available to Midlands communities along the route.
Irish Water has identified and intensely examined every reasonable option for meeting the future water supply needs of the Eastern and Midlands Region. All the research and studies have been undertaken in line with best international practice for the identification of need and determination of options.
After confirming the need for a water supply project for the Eastern and Midlands Region, Irish Water embarked on a four stage process to identify a suitable new source of water supply. Extensive studies and research have been undertaken to identify and assess all realistic supply options to meet the future water supply requirements of the Region. In total ten options were identified and examined in detail.
These ten options were thoroughly assessed on a demographic, technical, geographic, environmental and economic basis, and four options were identified as technically viable and suitable for further assessment, three of which were based on River Shannon/Lough Derg as the supply source, with the fourth being desalination.
Following further research and public consultation these four options were reduced to two – abstraction of water from Parteen Basin on the lower River Shannon, with water treatment nearby or desalination from the Irish Sea in north County Dublin (Fingal).
After further research and public consultation, the Parteen Basin option was identified as the preferred scheme as its treated water pipeline route to Dublin delivers the widest benefit, to the greatest number of people, with the least environmental impact and in the most cost effective manner. Desalination would primarily serve Dublin only and would not address the objectives of Irish Water’s 25-year plan to provide a high quality, long-term and sustainable water supply to the Eastern and Midlands Region.
Irish Water has been tasked with taking action to ensure our water supply meets future demand. Ireland has failed to adequately invest in its water infrastructure for over half a century. Action is now vital and urgent. Our water infrastructure is already struggling to meet the current need which is why there have been several significant and costly outages in the Region in recent times.
We know that raw water sources for the Greater Dublin Area will be at capacity by the mid-2020s, and we know that water saved from fixing leaks is not enough to meet future demand. The rest of the Eastern and Midlands Region faces similar challenges. The project is also needed to address capacity issues in the Region to ensure that the supply is fit-for-purpose in the event of extreme weather such as droughts and storms.
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, the National Planning Framework, the forthcoming draft Irish Water National Water Resources Plan, and the recently published River Basin Management Plan. The review of the project need through analysis of all relevant data 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 the Eastern and Midlands Region the resilience and reliability of service. This resilience is essential to inspire confidence in the Region’s infrastructure and continue to attract economic opportunity.
WSP is a long-term strategic investment that will bring economic benefits to the whole country, and growth in the Region, supporting improved standards of service, job creation and quality of life.
This is a long-term strategic investment that will bring economic benefits to the whole country, and growth in the Region, supporting job creation, improved standards of service and quality of life.
The Eastern and Midlands Region comprises over 40% of the nation’s population. This project will deliver a secure and sustainable water supply, the most vital component for domestic and commercial development.
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 37% across 9,000km of water pipes. Irish Water is rolling out an ambitious Leakage Reduction Programme that will see gradual replacement of pipes at a sustainable rate. Pipe replacement has major social and economic impacts on urban communities and Irish Water’s industry standard approach to address leakage will deliver major savings while balancing the impact of replacement works.. The approach combines active leak detection with customer side monitoring, supported by targeted mains replacement of the pipes that burst most frequently.
However, leakage reduction cannot keep pace with growth needs, which are calculated before allowing for severe weather events such as drought conditions or the multiple bursts and water shortages that followed Storm Emma. Such conditions demonstrate the very real need for “spare” capacity in the water network to deal with contingencies.
Leakage reduction is required in combination with a new supply for the Eastern and Midlands Region, as each of these solutions alone cannot address supply demand balance in the short, medium and long term. The Region requires a balanced and sustainable water supply arrangement which can deliver service reliability under all climate conditions, while allowing for ambitious social and economic growth and allowing for achievable leakage targets.
The WSP proposal requires savings through leakage reduction of 45 Mld of usable water in a very short time frame, just to manage the supply-demand balance in the years before the project comes on stream. The targeted savings from this programme have been factored into the assessment of need for the Eastern and Midlands Region. As a result, full achievement of these targets has been built into the assessment of need for the project.
Environmental concerns are detailed and addressed in two reports that will accompany the planning application for the WSP. These reports are called an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) and Natura Impact Statement (NIS). These two reports are a result of adhering to specific processes; each process and how it has been followed with regard to the WSP is detailed in the FAQs below.
Consultation is an important element of the EIA process and an Environmental Impact Statement Scoping Report was published and consulted on in November 2016, seeking feedback from stakeholders and the public regarding the potential environmental impact of the project and the proposed scope of work and methodologies to be applied in the development of the EIAR and NIS for the project. The Scoping Report also identified that the AA process would be undertaken concurrently with EIA with both processes clearly distinguished.
Ongoing environmental surveys and input from the public and stakeholders will feed into the EIAR and NIS, which are currently being prepared. The EIAR will detail the results of the ongoing environmental investigations and consultations and demonstrate how these have influenced the development of the Parteen Basin Scheme. It will also evaluate any potential impacts and identify appropriate prevention/alleviation measures. The NIS will follow a set of procedures to consider the Parteen Basin Scheme in relation to European sites which include Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Areas (SPA).
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the process for anticipating the effects (both positive and negative) of a proposed development or project on various environmental receptors. If the anticipated effects are unacceptable, design measures or other relevant prevention and alleviation measures can be taken to reduce or avoid those effects. The EIA process, which follows both European and national legislation for planning and environmental assessment, will record the details of this assessment in an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR).
The first step in the EIA process is ‘Screening’ which determines if an EIA is required. If required, the next step is to ‘Scope’ the content of the EIA. Scoping identifies the key project specific issues that are likely to be impacted during the EIA and outlines possible alternative approaches where required. A Scoping Report was produced for WSP in November 2016 and is available here [http://www.watersupplyproject.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/eis_scoping_report_full_report.pdf].
Following on from scoping, the EIA process includes a baseline assessment to determine the status of the existing environment, impact prediction and evaluation, and appropriate prevention and alleviation/ mitigation measures, including monitoring and reinstatement. An EIAR on the WSP is currently being compiled in line with the EIA Directive 2014/52/EU, current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidance documents ‘Guidelines on the Information to be contained in Environmental Impact Assessment Reports Draft August 2017’, ‘Advice Notes for Preparing Environmental Impact Statements, Draft September 2015’ and other applicable legislation and guidance documents.
The EIAR, which will present the findings of the EIA process, will accompany Irish Water’s Strategic Infrastructure Development planning application to An Bord Pleanála who will determine whether consent should be granted.
An Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) is a report that contains detailed analysis of the potential impacts of a proposed project on the existing environment and includes sufficient information to allow the consenting authority (in the case of WSP, An Bord Pleanála) make a decision on whether consent should be given to the project.
The EIAR will present a description of the existing environment, an assessment of the potential impacts of the scheme, will set out measures to avoid or reduce any adverse impacts and identify any remaining residual effects. The impacts will be assessed and presented in line with the environmental topics, in line with the EIA Directive 2014/52/EU.
The Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) will set out the effects which the WSP, during and after construction, would have on the environment. As outlined in Article 3(1) of the EIA Directive:
“The environmental impact assessment shall identify, describe and assess in an appropriate manner in the light of each individual case, the direct and indirect significant effects of a project on the following factors:
- Population and human health;
- Biodiversity, with particular attention to species and habitats protected under Directive 92/43/EEC and Directive 2009/147/EC;
- Land, soil, water, air and climate;
- Material assets, cultural heritage and the landscape;
- The interaction between the factors referred to in points (a) to (d).”
The EIAR will examine the likely impacts during construction and operational project stages of WSP. The magnitude and spatial extent of these impacts will be described in the EIAR, for example, it will include whether potential environmental effects are localised or geographically more extensive. The EIAR will present an evaluation of these impacts, and propose appropriate mitigation measures. EIA is an iterative process and design measures will be modified during the development of WSP to prevent and mitigate impacts to the environment.
The EIAR is the output which records the details of the assessment and will accompany Irish Water’s planning application to An Bord Pleanála who will determine whether consent should be granted.
If there is a possibility that WSP could cause a likely significant effect on one or more designated sites, either alone or in combination with other schemes, then the project must be subject to an Appropriate Assessment (AA). Different types of European sites are subject to AA including Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), such as the Lower River Shannon. These sites are classified under the European Union Birds Directive (2009/147/EC) and Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC).
The procedures that must be followed when considering developments affecting a European site(s) are specified in Articles 6(3) and 6(4) of the Habitats Directive.
The AA process includes the follows steps:
- Screening for AA – this establishes whether a plan or project could have a significant effect on a European site, if a likely effect is established, a full AA is required.
- An AA – this details the impact assessment of the plan or project, alone and in combination with other plans and projects, focusing on the potential effect on integrity of a European site(s) in view of its conservation objectives.
An AA process will be undertaken concurrently with EIA, but both processes will be clearly distinguished. Within the AA process will be two documents, an AA Screening Statement and Natura Impact Statement (NIS) for WSP, which will be submitted to the competent authority (An Bord Pleanála) as part of the planning application with the EIAR.
A Natura Impact Statement (NIS) is a report that contains an examination of the potential impacts of a plan or project on European site(s) that allows a decision to be made on whether consent (in the case of WSP, by An Bord Pleanála) should be given to the plan or project. The NIS is informed by ecological specialists, that undertake surveys, research and analysis, with input from other experts (e.g. hydrologists and/or engineers), who predict any potential significant effects a project may have on European site(s).
Irish Water will require a wayleave over lands on the pipeline route. In the context of the Water Supply Project a wayleave is the legal right to construct, operate and maintain a water supply pipeline within a strip of land. Irish Water will require a temporary working width for construction which will include a permanent wayleave. The extensive experience of Irish Water’s sister company, Gas Networks Ireland (formally Bord Gáis Networks), which has successfully delivered over 2,400km of natural gas transmission pipelines through the lands of over 5,600 landowners since 1976, will be relied upon during the planning, wayleave acquisition, construction and reinstatement phases of the Water Supply Project – Eastern and Midlands Region.
Irish Water is communicating with landowners through four dedicated Landowner Liaison Officers (LLOs). The role of the LLOs is to provide landowners with a dedicated point of contact throughout the planning phase, through construction, and afterwards. Each landowner whose land may be on the pipeline route has a nominated LLO as an ongoing point of contact for the project.
A wayleave is a right enjoyed over the lands of another for a particular purpose. In the case of Irish Water, the right being acquired from a landowner is the right to lay a water pipeline and any other ancillary infrastructure connected with or facilitating the exercise or performance by Irish Water of any of its functions or powers.
A temporary working width is required in the construction stage only, to manage the operations involved in construction of the pipeline and the valve chambers. This includes space to properly store the excavated topsoil and subsoil, to transport materials from roads to the working area, to excavate the trench and for staff and machinery to work safely. The working width is envisaged to be typically 50m, however there can be situations where additional areas will be required, such as at road, river or rail crossings and to accommodate more complex construction.
Once construction is complete and the pipeline is operating, a right of access (or wayleave) is required by Irish Water to inspect and maintain the pipeline and chambers. This permanent wayleave will typically be 20m in width and is legally documented by way of a Deed of Easement and registered as a burden on the title of the land. While the land can be farmed in the normal way, there will be restrictions on construction and excavations within the permanent wayleave.
Our Landowner Liaison Officers (LLOs) will complete a “pre-entry” agreement with each landowner, prior to construction commencing. The agreement records the condition of the lands, the type of fencing required and access to the remaining lands outside the working width. The agreement will also include specific details of how the land is to be reinstated at completion of the works. The advance compensation for crop loss and disturbance is paid prior to entry to the land.
Yes. Irish Water is committed to the full and proper restoration of all land disturbed by its operations and to restoring any boundary walls and fences affected by the works to a condition equivalent to that existing before the commencement of the works. Replanting of trees removed at field boundaries will be subject to the limitations necessary in the permanent wayleave
Lands will be reinstated based on best practice construction methodology, which Irish Water’s sister company Gas Networks Ireland has developed over 40 years. This construction methodology will be summarised in a Code of Practice which will be made available to landowners as part of the voluntary wayleave package.
The Code of Practice will outline how topsoil and subsoil will be removed, stored and protected, how backfill in the trench will be compacted, how land drainage will be managed throughout, and how the temporary working width will be prepared to receive subsoil, and then topsoil, prior to reseeding.
Irish Water’s approach for this project has been to enter into discussions with landowner representative organisations at an early stage. The aim of these discussions is to agree the pipeline construction method as outlined in a Code of Practice and the financial compensation terms, which will be offered to the landowner, in return for consenting to a wayleave through their lands. The proposed wayleave package to be issued to landowners for acceptance on a voluntary basis will address the impact on farming enterprises and operations.
Post construction, Irish Water will retain a 20m wide permanent wayleave within which interference with the depth of cover to the pipeline will be prohibited. Activities such as construction and excavations will be prohibited within the wayleave. However, some less invasive activities such as cleaning ditches and erecting fences may be permitted if certain protective measures are implemented in consultation with Irish Water.
It is not permitted to plant larger species of trees such as poplar and willow in the permanent wayleave due to the potential impact from their roots on the pipeline. The planting of some smaller trees, shrubs or hedges are permitted, so long as they do not exceed 4m.
Yes, normal agricultural operations can resume once reinstatement has been completed including fencing, hedging and ditching not causing interference or obstruction to the pipeline or material reduction of the depth of soil.
Walkover inspections, and maintenance checks on valves would typically be annual in frequency, and routine inspections would be notified to landowners in advance. A requirement to bring plant or equipment to a valve location would rarely arise.