The proposed water pipeline from the River Shannon to Dublin would make farms along the route unviable during construction or even permanently, European election candidate Michael McNamara has said.

McNamara added that this comes at a time when many farmers’ livelihoods are already being jeopardised by changes to Ireland’s nitrates derogation.

“Ireland has one of the highest leakage rates of drinking water in Europe and the Dublin City Council area has one of the highest leakage rates in Ireland.

“As a result of that, it is proposed to build a pipeline across Ireland to ship water from Lough Derg and the River Shannon.

“That, obviously, would cause huge disruption to landowners, a huge cost to the economy and unforeseeable consequences for the environment,” he said.

McNamara added that fish stocks in the Shannon are already dropping and there would be a larger draw on the pipeline during the summer when water levels are already low.

Raw sewage

On water quality, McNamara said: “Farmers are being largely blamed for the ongoing deterioration in water quality across the country, while there is rarely any mention of the volume of raw sewage discharged daily into Irish waterways.

“Instead of spending millions on piping water to Dublin where it will simply leak into the ground, this Government should be investing in delivering the necessary wastewater infrastructure to unsewered communities and upgrading the many facilities that are no longer fit for purpose.

“Not only does the construction of the needed new wastewater treatment plants alleviate the pressure on the future development of vitally important infrastructure in local communities, but it also tackles one of the primary causes of declining water quality in Ireland’s waterways,” he said.

The election candidate added that he would not support the proposed pipeline until the issues of leakage and sewage are fixed by Dublin local authorities and Uisce Éireann.

“Otherwise, this project will just further punish farmers by making their holdings unviable while they continue to be squarely and unfairly blamed for water quality issues.

“[This] could be redressed by diverting proposed expenditure on this pipeline into funding infrastructure that will significantly decrease the amount of wastewater entering our waterways,” he said.