LISTEN: Save Our Lakes group ‘not convinced’ that water extraction plans would not be extended in the future

Campaigners in Athlone say they are not convinced that plans to extract water from Lough Ree would not be limited to serve just the south Westmeath area into the future.

Irish Water is proposing to construct a new Water Treatment Plant at Portnaneena to supply homes and businesses in Athlone and south Westmeath.

It’s planning to take 15 million litres of water from the inner lakes of Coosan Lough, Killenure Lough and Ballykeeran bay per day, based on an extraction order obtained by Westmeath County Council, which allows for the extraction up 41 million litres daily.

The Save Our Lakes group is concerned about taking water from the inner lakes, which is sourced from ground water and is of better quality, supporting and maintaining special habitats and fish stocks.

It’s calling on the local authority to move the point of extraction to the outer lake, for the treatment plant to be moved to a more remote location, and for all excess treated waters to be disposed of on site and not returned to the lake.

A protest will take place at the Portnaneena amenity this Saturday at 2pm to raise awareness of the issues involved.

Michael Hickey of the Save of Lakes group says he has no issue with taking water for Westmeath or elsewhere as long as it’s from the outer lake and the order is not extended.

Michael Hickey speaks to MaryClaire Grealy on Let’s Talk about their concerns. He begins by explaining the difference between Lough Ree, the Shannon and what’s known locally as the ‘Inner lakes’.