Water Supply Project – Eastern and Midlands Region
The preferred scheme for a new water supply for the Eastern and Midlands region
Uisce Éireann’s purpose is to rise to the challenge of delivering transformative water services that enable communities to thrive. The Water Supply Project, Eastern and Midlands Region is a project of national importance as prioritised in the National Planning Framework and National Development Plan and is the first major ‘new source’ water supply infrastructure for the region for over 60 years. It will deliver a safe secure sustainable source of water necessary to support our growing population and economy, including the demand for housing. It is a project that will enable us to adapt to the effects of climate change by diversifying our water supply sources. The successful delivery of this major national infrastructure project is critical to Ireland’s social and economic growth now, and for generations to come. The project has already gone through extensive non-statutory public consultation and there will be a further opportunity to provide feedback on the project before a Strategic Infrastructure Development Planning Application is submitted for planning approval to An Bord Pleanála. The project has also been examined in the context of the outcomes of Uisce Éireann’s first National Water Resources Plan and associated Regional Water Resource Plans and remains the best solution to address a substantial proportion of the identified water supply needs of the Eastern and Midlands Region.
The Water Supply Project Eastern and Midlands Region will deliver a new source of water supply to address substantial water supply demand deficits in the region.
The Proposed Project comprises abstraction of water from the lower River Shannon at Parteen Basin in Co. Tipperary, downstream of Lough Derg, with water treatment nearby at Birdhill. Treated water will then be piped 170km through counties Tipperary, Offaly and Kildare to a termination point reservoir at Peamount in County Dublin, connecting into the Greater Dublin network. This project scope will form the basis for the proposed planning application.
The Proposed Project has the capacity to supply communities in the Midlands, between the water treatment plant near Birdhill and the termination point reservoir at Peamount, in addition to other locations outside of the GDA in the east of the country. Offtake locations will be provided along the supply main to facilitate future connections to supply those communities. Any projects required to connect the proposed pipeline to these communities will be subject to their own statutory consents in future.
The need for the project
Water supply in the Eastern and Midlands Region faces a number of serious challenges. Currently a single source, the River Liffey, supplies 85% of the water requirements for 1.7 million people in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA). In terms of catchment size the Liffey is the 19th largest river in Ireland, yet we abstract nearly five times more water from it than any other waterbody in the state. This dependency on the Liffey (and the two main treatment plants of Ballymore Eustace and Leixlip) results in a serious vulnerability to risks such as prolonged drought and/or contamination. Exposure to this key vulnerability is endured daily and can only be addressed through a new independent water source for the GDA.
Population growth, economic growth and climate change will exacerbate the region’s water supply challenges even further. Uisce Éireann forecast that by 2044 we will need 34% more water in the Eastern and Midlands region than we have today, despite our ambitious National Leakage Reduction Programme. This situation of a growing water supply deficit and lack of supply resilience is not sustainable. UÉ is taking all feasible measures to reduce the risk to customers in the near term but the risk of loss or reduction in water supply remains. In the longer term, it is certain that without a significant new supply source, homes and businesses in the Greater Dublin Area will not have enough water to meet their future water needs.
The options for this new supply have been examined for over 25 years and recent comprehensive analysis undertaken by Uisce Éireann confirms that The Water Supply Project, Eastern and Midlands Region will deliver the widest benefit to the greatest number of people, with the least environmental impact in the most cost-effective manner.
Benefits of the project
It will provide:
- The required additional treated water capacity in the region.
- Increased resilience and sustainability in the GDA and the Region’s water supply through diversification of sources and a new source of supply.
- Reduction in the number of properties at risk of Interruption to Supply in the GDA.
- The Level of Service in the GDA will be increased to 1 in 50 meaning, as a consumer, you would only ever expect to experience a water supply outage or severe limitations to your water supply, on average, once every 50 years.
- Reduction in the number of properties that are affected by an unacceptable level of low pressure.
- Greater resilience against the impact of climate change through climate adaptation and the provision of a new, sustainable source of water supply.
- Provision of water supply capacity to support population and economic growth.