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Lough Derg To Supply Dublin’s Water ?

Part of the beautiful Lough Derg shore line viewed from Co.Tipperary

Branches of the Shannon Protection Alliance in Nenagh, Co Tipperary and Athlone Co. Westmeath have welcomed the setting up of a further lobby group in Limerick, which oppose the plan to extract millions of litres of water from Lough Derg’s shoreline in Co.Tipperary. This new opposition comes as a result of Dublin City Council unveiling plans to extract 500 million litres of water from Lough Derg to supply the greater Dublin region.

This controversial plan would envisage water being extracted at a rate of 500 million litres per day from an extraction point, possibly to be constructed at Terryglass, a village situated in North Tipperary.

Dublin City Council plans to pipe this water to Garryhinch Bog in Co. Offaly, where it intends to design “an innovative water based eco-park with fishing, boating, cycling, water and leisure sports on 500 acres, with a major water storage reservoir.”

The council expect that the water stored at this reservoir will not only be a new water source for the greater Dublin area, but will also supply counties Westmeath, Offaly, Meath, Wicklow and Kildare.

The project is set to cost €540m and will create an estimated 1,000 construction jobs over three years as well as generating ongoing, sustainable, long-term jobs in the Midlands in the management of the eco-park activities and a water plant.

Originally the plan was to extract the water from Lough Ree, but following massive public pressure from local communities in Athlone and despite the fact that the distance between Athlone and Dublin is shorter than that between Lough Derg and our capital city the vision has now changed, with Lough Derg becoming the favoured target for this extraction point.

Opposition to Dublin City Council’s vision for North Tipperary has been relatively muted, when compared to the military precision of organised opposition mounted from the Lough Ree area, where groups marched on our Dail last year demonstrating strong resistance to taking water from their local pond.

Unlike Athlone none of the three TD’s in North Tipperary attended at the Nenagh Alliance groups last meeting in Dromineer, which discussed this proposal under the heading “Environmental, Social and Ecological Impact”. This is possibly due to the fact that the combined population of all of the counties bordering the Shannon is home to nearly 1 million voters who feel that Dublin already gets more than their fair share of collected revenue.

The Press Officer for the Shannon Protection Alliance Mr P.J. Walsh has highlighted the lobby group’s fears for Lough Derg if the plan becomes a reality.

Mr Walsh stated: “This lake will drop to such an extent that fish life and fauna could be irreversibly damaged, leaving Terryglass Harbour high and dry. If Dublin City Council are made aware through massive opposition they will go elsewhere. Large scale water abstraction can increased the incidence of toxic blue-green algal blooms, which is a known carcinogenic. Immediate drops in water levels throughout the Shannon catchment area will bring about the swift total and irreversible demise of tourism, leisure activities, angling, agriculture, hotel and accommodation interests, and the destruction of the Shannon’s fragile ecology will be damaged to such an extent that it will never recover, even if the water abstraction were to be discontinued.”

Recent research shows that as the level of a lake continues to lower due to high volume usage, the elevation of the thermocline, latter a zone that separates a layer of cool water from a layer of warm water, also is lowered. As a result, the drinking water intake, which are located at fixed elevations, may be exposed to a layer of warmer lake water, which is associated with poorer quality water. This then requires increased efforts to treat drinking water, which eventually leads to higher treatment costs.

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