Over the past weeks I have held talks with Government colleagues in an effort to get the Ennis Water Augmentation scheme funded and delivered in full.
For many years I have pressed the case for the scheme having consistently raised the matter in Dáil Éireann with former Minister for Environment John Gormley.
The situation remains that the scheme has not been rolled out in full. Clare County Council officials have indicated that an inter connector is needed between the Castlelake and Ennis supply, which will cost in the region of €900,000. In the past I have been a strong and vocal supporter for the full implementation of the Ennis Water Augmentation Scheme. We have had many water issues in Ennis and the surrounding areas for close to a decade.
While we all recognise that funding is a huge issue for the current Government, I have held discussions with Minister Phil Hogan on this issue over the past number of weeks. I am pleased that he has indicated that he will visit Ennis this week and familiarise himself first hand with the water issues locally.
A vital outstanding element of the scheme is the interconnector which will dramatically improve the quantity of water flowing between the existing supply and the new supply .
We had large areas of Ennis, Clarecastle, Barefield, Doora and Crusheen without water for long periods in recent years which is totally unacceptable. What’s needed is a long-term solution to the shortage of water in the Ennis Supply and that can be delivered through the Ennis Water Augmentation Scheme. The last Government undoubtedly kicked this issue to touch. And while money is tight currently, I am pressing for this project to be prioritised.
The true benefits of having an alternative water supply for Ennis and its environs will only be realised when the full Ennis Water Augmentation Scheme is operational. Other parts of the Scheme such as works to improved extraction capability at Castlelake, a new pumping station in Clareabbey, provision of a new reservoir at Edenvale and all the additional pipe work need to be fast tracked. Simply put we need to be drawing more water from the new source at Castlelake and we then need to be in a position to feed it around the system faster.
The town of Ennis and its environs, including Barefield, Clarecastle, Doora and Crusheen, can no longer depend on a single water source. The 30,000 consumers of the Ennis Water supply have had to tolerate far too many interruptions in supply for the past number of years for a variety of reasons including boil notices.
I have given Minister Hogan detailed and precise information regarding the Ennis water supply problems, and I look forward to welcoming him to County Clare when I will press the case again for badly needed investment in the Ennis water network.