Irish Water to pipe water to West Cork holiday destinations

Climate change has left some coastal parts of West Cork with less rainfall than they had only a couple of years ago, meaning Irish Water has had to change its approach to handling supplies in the future.

Taking water from a lake near Drinagh to augment Clonakilty’s supply has been ruled out because, due to climate change, it has less water in it during the summertime than it previously held.

Now water is to be piped from the river in Bandon to Clonakilty and in turn the water supply to Bandon is to be supplemented from the Chetwynd reservoir near Bishopstown, which is directly supplied from Inniscarra.

An area stretching between Rosscarbery and Kinsale has seen less rainfall occurring in the summer in recent years. Instead, rain is falling further inland.

That is putting increasing pressure on coastal farmers and has held up the building of hundreds of homes in the area due to an insufficient supply.

In addition, while there is less rainfall in the summer in these areas, the highest demand is also during that season when there is an influx of thousands of tourists.

Supply plans

A meeting of the Bandon/Kinsale Municipal District Council heard that Irish Water has altered its supply plans going forward to adapt to climate change.

Fine Gael councillor John O’Sullivan said he had met with officials from the utility to discuss the situation. He said he, as a farmer in Courtmacsherry, has seen the change in rainfall patterns in that area in recent years.

In 2019 all the talk was about supplementing the Clonakilty supply from Curraghalicky Lake (near Drinagh). But there is not enough water in it now during the summer for the projected demand in the Clonakilty area,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

River water pipe

Irish Water is instead now laying a pipe from Bandon to pump river water from there to Clonakilty. That should be completed before the end of next year.

Mr O’Sullivan said he has seen statistics that show the further west you go in West Cork, there is less rainfall in coastal areas in the summer than there was just 10 years ago.

He said Irish Water had a plan to augment the Bandon supply and the coastal areas from Rosscarbery to Kinsale from the Chetwynd reservoir and initially looked at having this completed within the next five years.

However, because of climate change he is hoping this will be accelerated as Irish Water officials told him they have already started work on designing the project.

“Irish Water is aware of the potential drought situation in certain parts of the region during the summertime and the quicker this is done the better because there are hundreds of planning permissions for estates in these areas which have had to be put on hold because there isn’t ‘t the supply to feed them,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

However, Bandon-based Fianna Fáil councillor Gillian Coughlan wasn’t happy with water being taken from her town to supplement the supply in Clonakilty, especially as it could be a number of years before the connection is made between Bandon and the Chetwynd reservoir.

She was particularly concerned that in the meantime development in her town could stagnate and that businesses looking to locate there might not get planning permission because there wouldn’t be enough supply in the system for them. Fine Gael councillor Kevin Murphy felt the same.