Independent TD Mattie McGrath says the utility is making a a €1bn error of judgement
Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath has accused Irish Water of making a €1bn error of judgement.
The utility is pushing ahead with its plan to bring water from the River Shannon to the East of the Country.
The plans will see water taken from the Parteen Basin in North Tipperary and pumped up to 170 kilometres to the Midlands and Greater Dublin Area.
At present, the capital is almost entirely reliant on the River Liffey – which is close to capacity.
The €1.3 billion pipeline would supply 40% of the population from 2025.
It would be the first major upgrade to the water infrastructure in the area in more than 60 years.
This afternoon however, independent TD Mattie McGrath said the public wasn’t properly consulted, adding that there are too many leaks in Dublin to proceed with the project:
“These are really token consultations,” he said.
“The problem I have is we have a rotten, leaking piping system in Dublin – I am not anti-Dublin by the way – and they are going to bring this huge €1.2bn – it will probably be €2bn before it finishes – pipeline from the Shannon to Dublin to pump it into a broken system.
“You are throwing good money after bad.”
He said Irish Water had failed to convince many people that “they know what they are doing” or that they are “accountable in any way shape or form.”
“That €1.2bn could do so much in health, could do so much in water conservation; a fraction of it would fix the pipes in Dublin so it is madness because it won’t ensure that the Dublin householders will have a constant supply but above all a safe supply.
“We are putting it into a dangerous system instead of doing what is need – fix the antiquated Dickensian system of pipe-work that is serving the city.”
Irish Water has said that the amount of time and disruption involved in fixing the leaks means they can only target small percentages at a time.
The utility claimed that fixing the leaks in the capital will not be enough to meet the future needs of the Eastern and midlands regions.
Financial consultant Emma Kennedy, who has compiled a report on the Shannon project on behalf of environmental groups objecting to the plan, has claimed that the utility is presenting “a misleading story” when it comes to leaks in the capital.
She has warned that the utility is currently aiming to replace just 1% of pipes in the city every year moving forward.
“Somehow, Irish Water claims its leakage targets are ambitious,” she said.
“Not by international standards which have seen, for example, Lisbon reduce leakage by 64% in eight years, London by 30% in six years and Reggio Emilia by 50% in 8 years.”
Deputy McGrath said the utility’s attitude to fixing the leaks is “totally inept.”
“It is their duty to fix the pipes and above all to protect the households of Dublin from contaminants seeping onto the water,” he said.
“We will be having a post mortem here in 20 years time about why this mad project went ahead to do this.
“It wouldn’t happen in a third world country, never mind in Ireland.
“It just goes to show you that these bodies like Uisce Éireann (Irish Water) and the county councils are not accountable to anybody.”
Following the project's fourth public consultation, Irish Water described the project as 'critical' to support the region's social and economic growth - suggesting it will "deliver a secure, reliable and sustainable long-term water supply."
The project still requires planning permission before it can move ahead, with Irish Water hoping to submit an application next year.
Earlier Irish Water's Sean Laffey observed: "Irish Water is rolling out a comprehensive Leakage Reduction Programme which combines active leak detection with customer side monitoring supported by targeted mains replacement of the leakiest pipes based on burst frequency.
"This industry standard approach is the most technically and economically achievable way of managing network leakage and will deliver major savings through a number of investment cycles. However, this cannot keep pace with growth needs."
Mr Laffey noted that supply was also affected by weather events in recent months - such as the shortages in the capital that followed Storm Emma earlier this year.
He added that the utility is "now satisfied beyond doubt" that the project is the "correction scheme" to deal with future water demands.
With reporting from Juliette Gash and Michael Staines