Irish Water’s plan to take Shannon water to meet needs of greater Dublin area is complex

Irish Water’s plan to extract water from the lower reaches of the Shannon to meet the needs of the greater Dublin area is not a straightforward matter of pipes and pumps, according to Pat Aherne.

And he knows more than most about the complex issues which face the proposed €900m project. For years he worked with the technical staff at Ardnacrusha ESB power station which impacts hugely on the lower Shannon system. And as a keen angler he knows every nook and cranny of that stretch of the river.

Pointing to an aerial photograph in the sitting room of his bungalow, Mr Aherne shows that his home just outside O’Briensbridge, Co Clare, is only a few hundred metres from the man-made lake at the weir of the Parteen Basin, the source of the proposed new Dublin supply. Parteen Basin is actually more than 13km up river from the village of Parteen near the Ardnacrusha station.

Irish Water’s plan to take Shannon water to meet needs of greater Dublin area is complex

When the station was built more than 85 years ago, a ready supply of fast-flowing water was needed to drive its huge turbines. To achieve this, the Parteen Basin was created by flooding a large area of land along the Shannon and this was connected by a channel leading to the power station. This 13km channel, called the head race, runs parallel to the Shannon.

Mr Aherne said: “At the end of Lough Derg, the river resumes above Killaloe at Two Mile Gate, and comes through Killaloe and widens again at Parteen Weir and that’s what they call Parteen Basin. When the basin was created the level of water rose by about 14ft, submerging a large area. Parteen Basin is about a mile and a half in length.”

Three gates of Parteen Weir leading to the Ardnacrucha station are open all the times, and a fourth gate of the weir leading to the Shannon is controlled by the ESB to maintain specific river levels. The task of maintaining the river level between Parteen Weir and Limerick is the sole responsibility of the ESB.

“This is an area that will need to be addressed. Who will be responsible for ensuring that the level of the Shannon between Parteen Weir and Limerick is maintained at proper level?” asked Mr Aherne.

He is also concerned with what will happen upstream from the Parteen Basin.

Irish Water’s plan to take Shannon water to meet needs of greater Dublin area is complex

He said: “There is a lot of variation in water levels in the Parteen Basin. These are controlled by the ESB during periods of heavy rain, by allowing ‘spills’ from the basin through the weir gate into the Shannon and opening up the turbines at Ardnacrusha.

“If the basin is to become a new source for the east of the country, what input will the ESB have in controlling the levels of the basin? Who will be in charge of ensuring levels are properly maintained?”

Mr Aherne said that he was surprised that Irish Water has chosen Parteen Basin as its preferred supply source.

“I gathered that it would be further up the Shannon at a location closer to the east of the country,” he said.

More on this topic

'The losers are going to be ordinary people' - Sinn Féin hits out at new water charge'The losers are going to be ordinary people' - Sinn Féin hits out at new water charge

Q&A: Households who use too much water are facing fines - Here's everything you need to knowQ&A: Households who use too much water are facing fines - Here's everything you need to know

Households who use too much water to face bill of €500 Households who use too much water to face bill of €500

More than 50% of Irish people admit to wasting waterMore than 50% of Irish people admit to wasting water


Lifestyle

Pollinators are busy feasting on a tempting selection of flowering plants, says Peter Dowdall.The hedgerows are alive with the sound of insects

Carol O’Callaghan previews Cork Craft Month, when exhibitions, workshops and retail opportunitiesAn insider's guide to Cork Craft Month's exciting exhibitions, shopping opportunities and workshops

With a plethora of culture and content releasing at an incessant rate, finding someone to have that cliched watercooler moment with is getting harder and harder. However, there’s a whole host of pop culture podcasts that do the heavy lifting/watching with you.Trawling through pop culture... so you don’t have to

An exhibition in Skibbereen pays tribute to late photographer Michael Minihane, writes Richard FitzpatrickMichael Minihane has been putting West Cork in the frame for decades

More From The Irish Examiner