Eastern River Basin District Management Plan

The Draft Eastern River Basin District Management Plan and Programme of Measures (PoM’s) was launched on the 22nd December 2008.  The Draft Plan will be subject to a six month public consultation period closing on the 22nd June 2009.

The following submission has been sent by Thomas Deegan, Member ERBDAC. 

"Submission on the Draft Eastern River Basin District Management Plan

River Basin Management Plan Comments
Project Co-ordinator, ERBD Project Office,
Dublin City Council, 68-70 Marrowbone Lane,
4th Floor, Dublin 8.

I have previously pointed out my concerns about the Liffey Reservoir Act 1936 at the Water Matters Report 2007 and Working Draft Eastern River Basin District Management Plan stages but these have been totally ignored.

The Draft Eastern River Basin District Management Plan (ERBDMP) launched on Monday 22nd December 2008 once again fails to address or even mention problems associated with the Liffey Reservoir Act 1936.  All the costly Programme of Measures proposed for the River Liffey are absolutely useless as long as the Liffey Reservoir Act 1936 remains in place un-amended.  The problems associated with the Liffey Reservoir Act 1936 should have been addressed when the Water Quality Management Plan for the River Liffey Catchment was being drawn up by the Eastern Region Development Organisation (ERDO) but for reasons best known to ERDO they failed to do anything about them apart from ignoring the existence of the Act. The Draft Eastern River Basin District Management Plan is now following suit. 

There appears to be a sinister attempt to wipe the ESB off the Liffey as they don’t get a mention and it appears from reading the Draft ERBDMP that the Liffey was impounded only for public water supply and not for hydro electricity generation as well.  I don’t believe it is a coincidence that in a Report published in March 1985 by the Eastern Region Development Organisation on the Eastern Region Settlement Strategy 2011 in Appendix No.10 Sanitary Services we read “Dublin Corporation, who control the works at Ballymore Eustace have plans to develop the source to its ultimate capacity.  These proposals not only allow for significant development of the water treatment facilities at Ballymore Eustace but also call for Dublin Corporation to take over management of Poulaphuca Lake from the Electricity Supply Board.”  Elsewhere it states “it is important that Dublin Corporation assume control of the management of the reservoir.”  Is the ERBDMP a backdoor attempt to give Dublin City Council control of the management of Poulaphouca Reservoir by highlighting the water supply aspect and downgrading hydro electricity generation to the point of trying to wipe the ESB off the Liffey?  The ERBDMP, with regards to the Liffey, is totally biased towards public water supply.  The middle Liffey is dependant on generation floods released by the ESB to survive as a viable fishery and amenity.  Also, future development in County Kildare is also dependant on the constant release of generation flood water by the ESB to dilute and assimilate the discharges to the Liffey as it flows through the County.

Looking up the Draft Programme of Measures for the Liffey WMU  it states:
“River Liffey
Reason for designation: Flood Defences
Status: Good Ecological Potential
Measures for Rivers downstream of Reservoirs: Re examine compensation flow from ecological perspective. Implement a gravel loosening or gravel transportation from behind dams to the river (in consultation with Regional Fisheries Board and National Parks and Wildlife Service as appropriate.)”

It is hard to see how the Status can be described as “Good Ecological Potential” when raw sewage enters the River Liffey from Kildare County Council’s dilapidated sewage treatment plant at Ballymore Eustace and Osberstown WWTP also has its problems.  A study of the combined effects of three polluting local authorities discharging into a controlled flow Liffey at Ballymore Eustace should be undertaken and published.

The compensation flow for the Liffey downstream of the Reservoirs is set by the terms of the Liffey Reservoir Act 1936, which states in Section 6 of the Schedule to the Act “The Board shall at all times (including times at which the level of water in the Reservoir is below low water level as hereinafter defined) be at liberty to discharge water from the Reservoir in such a manner as the Board may think fit at a rate not exceeding 1.5 cubic metres per second averaged over each week from noon on Monday to noon on the following Monday as flow for compensation (hereinafter referred to as “compensation water”) as compensation water to the river downstream of the dam.”  That is the law of the land as it stands so there is no need to re-examine but there is a need to amend the Act so that no one or no body has the right to shut off the flow of the Liffey at Poulaphouca.

What is the point drawing up a Programme of Measures so long as the Liffey Reservoir Act 1936 allows the ESB to reduce the flow of the Liffey at Poulaphouca.  Not only can the ESB reduce the flow of the Liffey, they can even shut off the flow of the Liffey if that suits their purpose.  If they were to reduce the flow, or God forbid, shut off the flow, the Liffey would become little better than a sewer and all the listed Programme of Measures could do nothing to prevent the pollution of the Liffey and the extinction of aquatic life and habitat that would result.

Also, under the Liffey Reservoir Act 1936 there is no obligation on the ESB to keep the water level in Poulaphouca Reservoir above 581 feet O.D.  At a water level of 581 feet O.D. Dublin City Council would not be able to abstract the proposed 70 mgd public water supply from the Reservoir. A level of only 581 feet O.D. would destroy the Reservoir as an amenity and would also wipe out a number of habitats but the Draft ERBDMP sees fit to ignore the existence of this legislation.    

It also appears to me that any Act that allows any person or body to shut off the flow of any river is unconstitutional and would certainly start a war in parts of the world.  We hear, almost daily, calls for the ESB to be privatised and this makes an amendment of the Liffey Reservoir Act 1936 more urgent than ever.

To undertake gravel loosening or any other work on the River Liffey or behind the Dams without consulting the ESB would be totally irresponsible from a health and safety perspective but once again the ESB does not get a mention.

I am also concerned at the treatment of Golden Falls Lake in the Draft ERBDMP.  One minute you see it and the next minute its gone.  It appeared in the ERBDMP Working Document issued to Advisory Council Members and the initial Draft.  I mentioned in a submission on the Working Document that Golden Falls was a buffer lake to control the huge water flows that emit from Poulaphouca Hydro Power Station (30MW) when that Station is on full load.  The water is then released into the River Liffey at a much reduced flow through Golden Falls Hydro Power Station (4MW).  When I mentioned that there was no public water supply taken from Golden Falls Lake it appears to have vanished from the Draft ERBDMP and helps to confirm my view that there is an attempt to wipe the ESB and Hydro Electricity Generation off the Liffey.  There are a number of discharges directly into Golden Falls Lake.  The most notable discharge is from Wicklow County Council’s Blessington Waste Water Treatment Plant (P.E. 10,000).  Due to operating conditions on Golden Falls Lake it is most unsuitable for a discharge of this nature and in the year 2000 the EPA reported that Golden Falls Lake was Hypertropic i.e. a very high level of pollution.  Yet the Draft Programme of Measure for the Liffey WMU has this to say:
“Golden Falls
Reason for designation: Impoundment for drinking water supply.
Status: Less than Good
Measures: None Identified”

As stated above, Golden Falls was not impounded for a drinking water supply but there is still a need to ensure that the discharge from Blessington WWTP does not pollute the Lake.  It was reported when the level of Golden Falls was lowered in 2002 that a twenty feet high sewage sludge bank has built up at the Blessington Sewage Treatment Plant discharge location with lesser build-ups downstream.  The Programme of Measures should include Wicklow County Council having to investigate and if necessary, clean up the sludge.
Full tertiary treatment, nutrient removal and extensive monitoring arrangements are a must for Blessington WWTP and an alternative location for the discharge should be found.  Further, Wicklow County Council should be barred from allowing further discharges into Golden Falls Lake.

Trusting that this time my submission will not be ignored. 

Thomas Deegan,
Ballymore Eustace,
Co. Kildare.
12th February 2009

Copy to;   Mr. Padraig McManus, Chief Executive, ESB
  Mr. Michael Malone, Manager, Kildare County Council
  Mr. Eddie Sheehy, Manager, Wicklow County Council
  Mr. Pat Doherty, CEO, Eastern Regional Fisheries Board
  Mr. Gary Bolger, Hon. Sec. Ballymore Eustace TSAA
  Mr. Denis Madden, Hon. Sec. Clane TSAA
Cllr. Michael Deely, Hon. Sec. North Kildare TSAA
Cllr. Billy Hillis KCC"
It is important that all angling clubs and/or anglers study the Draft Plan and make submissions. Details of the Programme Of Measures for your Local Area e.g. Liffey, Ryewater, Boyne, Blackwater Upper, Blackwater Lower, Dodder, Nanny etc are described under the various Water Managements Units  

For more information on the Eastern River Basin District  and the Draft Management Plan and various other documents go to Links and then click on Eastern River Basin District.