Cost issues for new Kildare water supply

A new water project in Kildare will improve the county supply security but there are worries over the quality of the water, Kildare County Council heard on 26 March.

A new water project in Kildare will improve the county supply security but there are worries over the quality of the water, Kildare County Council heard on 26 March.

It was also told that in future water will be more expensive for Kildare residents.

Following a request for information by Cllr Suzanne Doyle, councilors were told that the €24.6m project to abstract water from the Barrow river should be commissioned by the middle of next year.

The project, being done under a design/build/operate contract by Veolia Water Ireland Ltd will supply 35% of the county’s needs.

But Cllr Doyle said she wanted a cost benefit analysis to be done on the project because the water from the Barrow will be very hard and cause problems for households and businesses using it.

There is a high level of lime she said.

Cllr Doyle said the water service will move out of Kildare County Council’s control and it will not be able to influence the way it is treated. “We should have had a treatment system at source,” she said questioning the contract.

The water treatment plant at Srowland, Athy, scheme will serve a number of areas in including Athy, Newbridge, Kilcullen, Derrinturn, Allen, Kilmeague and Prosperous,

During water shortages, parts of the Greater Dublin area, including Naas town and Carbury, will get water.

There are plans to “blend” this hard water with others.

Cllr Fiona O’Loughlin saids they were told there was a particular solution for this hard water, which will cause a lot of expensive wear and tear, on washing machines and dishwashers, but it had not been implemented in Ireland yet.

But even “blended” or diluted hard water is not great according to Cllr Tony O’Donnell. He said the reports of the blended supply from Rathangan and Kildare was “almost uniformly negative” and, he added, the hard water could not be used for baby formula. “Hotel will see wear and tear on their dish washers,” he said.

Cllr Martin Miley said the lime will be a “major problem” and if you had an Intel or a Wyeth, it could be “an issue for jobs.”

Director of Services, Joe Boland, said the Greater Dublin area supply was on a knife edge and security of supply is extremely important.

“The problem would suggest that the cost is very prohibitive but the feasibility of blending is being actively examined. This could reduce the water from “hard” to “moderately hard,” he said.

Mr Boland said it was likely that the cost of supplying future water will be more expensive.

Cllr Suzanne Doyle noted that it would be more costly to use our own supply than import it from Dublin. “The issue is not unrelated to the €100 household charge issue. Ratepayers are at the edge of tolerance,” she said.

Cllr Doyle said in future there would be a difference between the north and the south of the country regarding water supply. They would be handing control of water to a national body and, she argued, there had to be equity. She sought more detail on the cost saving.