Lough Talt Regional Water Supply Scheme

Since February 2018 over 13,000 residents within Lough Talt’s catchment area have been under a boil water notice due to contamination. Currently the water treated from Lough Talt uses chlorination only which does not protect against cryptosporidium, trihalomethanes and falls short of EU drinking water standards

In May 2019, in a landmark ruling, Sligo County Council granted planning permission for the upgrade of the existing Water Treatment Plant at Lough Talt, Co Sligo. This is the first project in Ireland to gain permission using the Habitats Directive Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest (IROPI) process. Working closely with Irish Water, Sligo County Council and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, our engineering and environmental team delivered this landmark approval.

Project timeline

  • 2010

    Preperation of water abstraction order

  • 2012

    Hydrological and geological investigations commence

  • 2016

    Investigations submitted

  • 2019

    Application for IROPI approved

  • 2019

    WTP construction work commences

1 /05
2010

Preperation of water abstraction order

2012

Hydrological and geological investigations commence

2016

Investigations submitted

2019

Application for IROPI approved

2019

WTP construction work commences

Key details

Project name:

Lough Talt Regional Water Supply Scheme

Client:

Sligo County Council and the National Parks and Wildlife Service

Location:

Sligo, Ireland

Services provided:  

  • Project Management
  • Employer’s Representative
  • Architecture
  • Civil & Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical & Electrical Engineering
  • Assigned & Design Certifier
  • Quantity Surveying
  • Optioneering / Feasibility including Site / Route Selection Report
  • Planning Applications for the WTP upgrade
  • AA Screening / NIS – Stages 1-4 of the Appropriate Assessment process was completed
  • Detailed design / Specimen design
  • Contract Documents
  • Tender Assessment
  • Contract Administration

Challenge

We began the preparation of a Water Abstraction Order for Lough Talt in 2010 to regularise the abstraction ongoing for over 70 years. Lough Talt is designated as part of the Lough Hoe Bog Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the River Moy SAC. Due to environmental sensitivities, we carried out detailed hydrological and geological investigations between 2012–2016 to assess the potential impact of the existing abstraction on the integrity of the European sites’ conservation objectives. We found that during periods of extended dry weather the lake level drops as a result of the abstraction operation, which impacts the Lough Hoe Bog SAC, potentially endangering the protected Geyer’s whorl snail.  

Geyer’s whorl snail

Solution

To avoid the impact the abstraction needed to reduce by approximately 50% during a significant portion of the year (approximately 95 days). This would not be adequate to supply the existing population requiring a supplementary water supply. Based on the studies and reporting prepared by RPS, Sligo County Council completed the Appropriate Assessment. An assessment of solutions showed no available alternative options to supply safe drinking water in the short to medium term. Consent was granted for IROPI to address the ongoing contamination and public health risk.

Based on the documents prepared by RPS, including IROPI and compensatory measures, a statement of case was prepared for consideration by the government. The compensatory measures including the reintroduction of the whorl snail were accepted by the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht as being sufficient to safeguard the protected site.

We are currently providing design services to Sligo County Council for the WTP upgrade. The project is therefore commencing detailed design by RPS followed by construction in due course.

 

 

Project statistics

1st
project in Ireland awarded IROPI approval
13,000
homes affected
12.5Ml/d
abstraction order required
12,500m3/d
water treatment plant

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