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Irish Water is to brief TDs and Senators today on final details of its €1.2 billion project to pipe water from the river Shannon to Dublin and the midlands.
Oireachtas members will be invited to a presentation in Dublin’s Buswell’s Hotel on the “final preferred route” from Parteen Basin through Tipperary and Offaly to Peamount in south Dublin.
Some 510 landowners are also being contacted, as part of a 14-week public consultation that will also involve stakeholders.
The final preferred route is very similar to the “emerging” preferred route published in November last year. However, a 2km corridor has been narrowed to a 50m corridor for construction and a permanent 20m corridor under which the pipe will lie.
The project aims to supply 330 million litres a day to Dublin and the midlands, equivalent, Irish Water says, to “125 Olympic-sized swimming pools” daily.
This would include not only drinking supplies for an estimated 40 per cent of Ireland’s population, but also for industry requiring water.
The State utility cites forecasts that the population of the Greater Dublin Area will rise from 1.5 million, as it was recorded in the 2011 census, to 2.1 million by 2050.
A report for Irish Water by the Indecon consultancy estimates that supply difficulties could cost the economy €78 million a day.
Irish Water says repairing leakage and conservation within the existing infrastructure will not meet a supply shortage.
The utility had examined a number of options, including desalination of sea water on the east coast.
It is proposing water extraction from Parteen Basin, with treatment at Birdhill. It would then be piped 170km to a termination point reservoir at Peamount, with supplies “made available . . . to midland communities”.
Irish Water has already written to landowners, and is holding public consultations over the next 14 weeks. It is also seeking views on issues which should be considered in the environmental impact statement, which it will prepare for a planning application.
It intends to submit this to An Bord Pleanála in late 2017, with target construction between 2021 and 2024.
If the project is approved both the ESB and landowners will be offered compensation as the project involves extracting water which would be supplied to the Ardnacrusha hydro electricity scheme on the Shannon.
Farmers and landowners on the route will be asked to grant a 50m wide way-leave, or right of way, for construction, which will become a 20m way-leave when built. The underground pipe itself will be 1.6m-2.3m in diameter, requiring a trench of up to 4m deep.
Irish Water declined to give any estimate for compensation to landowners.
That figure will be negotiated with the two main representative organisations, the Irish Farmers’ Association and the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association, using the methodology applied to compensating for gas pipelines.
A “community gain” payment to affected stakeholders – such as angling bodies and tourism interests – may also be offered as a standard element of Bord Pleanála approvals for large infrastructural projects.
The IFA said yesterday that the concerns of “all landowners must be heard and addressed”.
The River Shannon Protection Alliance said Dublin had no shortage of raw water but “insufficient treated water”, and argued that eastern groundwater supplies should be explored.
Tipperary dairy farmer Liam Minehan of the Fight the Pipe campaign said Irish Water was “playing down the disruption” and long-term impact on land of the pipeline.
He claimed the project was simply about “building a piece of infrastructure with a market value”.