Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Lough Derg water extraction - an appeal to North Tipp public representatives

In response to the front page story in the Nenagh Guardian for 25th September 2010, ‘Dublin must pay cash for our water’, I wrote the following letter to the Editor, which was published in the 2nd October edition.


I am dismayed at the reported comments of some County Councillors about taking water from Lough Derg for Dublin (front page, last week). Talk of making Dublin pay for our water will only encourage the powerful and unaccountable promoters of this bad scheme to press ahead*. Lough Derg is part of our heritage, and a valuable resource for recreation and tourism. It is not for sale!

If ever built, this €450 million scheme will likely be an expensive white elephant. The promoters try to justify it by saying Dublin will need half again as much water by 2040 as it uses in 2010. But this is based on Celtic Tiger era projections for population and economic growth in the Dublin Regional Planning Guidelines, which surely no one believes anymore. With realistic growth projections, fixing leaks, and sensible demand management measures, like rainwater harvesting and water metering and charging, Dublin will not need the water.

There is a risk that Lough Derg could be irreparably damaged by the scheme. No one yet knows enough about the hydrology and ecology of the lake to know what its impact will be. It would be extremely foolish to take decisions without a proper scientific understanding.

Rather than talk about money, I call on our public representatives to demand two things before any decisions are taken:
  1. an independent review of the demand assumptions on which the scheme is based;
  2. adequately funded independent scientific studies of Lough Derg, which should be paid for at arms length by the scheme’s promoters.
Joc Sanders,

*The editor, as is his right, saw fit to omit these words: ‘You’ve shown you’re a whore - now let’s haggle over the price’ - that is, I fear, how talk of payment for water will be seen by the scheme's promoters.

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