Irish Water expects that 500 landowners will be impacted along the planned 170-km route for a pipeline taking water from the River Shannon’s Parteen basin to the greater Dublin area.
The utility aims to make a planning application to An Bord Pleanála late this year.
A statutory public consultation process and a substantial oral hearing are expected to follow.
“Assuming all that goes well and we have an approved scheme sometime in 2019, we hope to continue to develop the scheme with a view to construction between 2021 and 2024,” said Irish Water spokesman Jerry Grant, during the recent Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government debate on the Water Supply Project for the Eastern and Midlands Region.
He said the construction width will be a 50 m wayleave, subject to “tweaking” with individual landowners.
“The construction period at any particular section could be for 12 months, but there is a significant recovery period as well, while the land returns to full production.”
“We are following the practice that Bord Gáis developed well.
“It came up with comprehensive codes of practice for the way the work should be done, particularly how it impacts on farms of different kinds of farming activity, drainage, groundwater management, final reinstatement and the quality of same.”
The third round of public non-statutory consultation included eight open information evenings across the pipeline route, and six landowner information evenings, which attracted about 350 landowners.
“We are now actively engaging on an individual basis with the landowners who did not turn up, to get their feedback and input into the process,” said Mr Grant.
According to Irish Water, the average demand for water in the Eastern and Midlands Region is 545 million litres a day, but a scheme based on the River Shannon, abstracting from the Parteen basin, will provide for the needs long into the future, resilient for things such as climate effects, changes in summer rainfall and so on.
A spokesman said, “Critically, it would give the region the kind of headroom or security against things going wrong such as the failure of a plant, the failure of a pipeline, pollution of a source, or that the supply does not come down and cause a major difficulty.
Irish Water says a one-day shut-down in water supply to the Dublin region would cost at least €78m, but reputational damage would impact on the ability to attract industry, and the confidence of the country would be severely shaken.
A spokesman revealed that their choice came down to the River Shannon, or desalination.
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