New Irish national development strategy boosts water spending by €5 billion

The Irish Republic has published a new National Planning Framework (NPF) covering the period up to 2040 and an associated 10-year National Development Plan which have allocated an extra €5 billion in funding for Irish Water and to meet what it calls Ireland’s “strategic water ambitions”. This additional funding tops up what had already been agreed for the utility up to 2021.

These blueprints back big-ticket schemes like proposals for a new-long-term water supply source for the Eastern and Midland Region which will involve piping water from the River Shannon to the capital.

Also highlighted is implementation of the so-called Greater Dublin Drainage project which will mean enlarging capacity at the existing Ringsend wastewater treatment plant and developing a new treatment plant in North County Dublin.

Another priority for these strategies is increased compliance with the requirements of the EU Urban Wastewater Directive from 39 per cent at present to 90 per cent by the end of 2021, to 99 per cent by 2027 and achieving 100 per cent compliance by 2040.

The state plans to “eliminate untreated discharges from settlements in the short term”. However, no timeline is given.

In addition, the Irish government has promised to develop a new rural investment approach “coordinating Irish Water, local authority, developer and community-led solutions to ensure that sustainable water services are progressively implemented”.

The NPF noted that “many smaller towns and villages do not benefit from public water service networks either in terms of water supply or wastewater treatment”.

The state said that reducing leakage and improving storm water infrastructure are strategically important but offered no targets or timelines.