Irish Water seeks planning permission for €1.3bn pipeline project

Irish Water has is to seek planning permission next year for a €1.3bn water supply project which will involve water being extracted at the Parteen basin on the River Shannon in Tipperary, before being pumped 170km to Peamount in Dublin and distributed across the capital.

Water from the Parteen Basin project pipeline will also supply homes and businesses in Tipperary, Offaly, Laois, Westmeath, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow.

The company said unless the project goes ahead, the shortages will become more commonplace. "If we continue to operate without the required headroom, we can expect more frequent water outages in the coming years as demand increases,” it said in its project report.

The project would end over-dependence on the river Liffey to serve the Dublin region, and provide an additional 330Ml a day, which Irish Water said will be needed by 2050 when the population is projected to reach 2.1 million.

The company argued that updated data on water consumption projections and latest census figures buttressed its original analysis. However, the proposals have faced sustained criticism from the River Shannon Protection Alliance and Fight the Pipe campaign, representing 500 landowners along the route. Objectors have claimed that a more aggressive leak-fixing programme would obviate the need for the project.

Irish Water conceded it has a leakage problem but was adamant that fixing leaks won’t be enough to meet a looming supply crisis.

Irish Water’s head of asset management, Sean Laffy, said: “Leakage in the Greater Dublin area network is at 36 per cent and there are 9,000km of water pipes with over 600,000 connections. “Irish Water is rolling out a comprehensive programme which will deliver major savings through a number of investment cycles. However, this cannot keep pace with growth need. 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.” He said the proposed Parteen Basin project will bring the widest benefit to the greatest number of people with the least environmental impact and in the most cost-effective manner.”