An Bord Pleanála Grants Permission to Roundwood Treatment Works

January 24th, 2018 -- Posted in Active, Irish Water, Politics, River Basin Management, Threats, Water Directive | No Comments »
The River Vartry Protection Society fought long and hard including bringing the matter to an Oral Hearing for An Bord Pleanála.  The permission was granted taking into account most our conditions and changes that Irish Water made voluntarily over the two years of process.  We want the upgrade, but we do not want to endanger the River Vartry.  Like Mick Jagger said, “You can’t always get what you want, But if you try sometime you find, You get what you need”.  Let me just highlight the result and why we see this as a Win-Win.

1- There will only be an extraction of maximum 80 Ml per day and never more.
2- There will be a single document created with all the commitments by 14th March.
3- 5ML per day will come from the retained sand filters.  We voiced our concern about the long-term viability of this and we wanted more water but the pipe will be remotely valved, and capable of 15ML/day should the future prove this is not sufficient to sustain the river.
4- Back pumping will cease.
5- All supernatants shall be recycled to the head of the works. This is a big change to the quality of the river, no nasty discharge that has been dumped for 150 years!
6- Within three months of operation  Annagolen Abstraction shall cease (This was only supposed to be done when the Shannon came online and now means we will get 6.5-8ML/day all year round.)
7- The existing interceptor channel shall be retained for the delivery of surface water only.  (We are not certain what the interceptor channel is!)
8- The Hazardous Chemicals storage and treatment will be decommissioned and a new one will be relocated to the new plant, far from the River.  This will prevent any possible spillages and fish kills.
9- Two permanent gauging stations will be built, one at the top just after the compensatory flow and one further down.
10- Data to be made public.
11- Create a wetted area fisheries habitat mapping and hydrological monitoring to include fisheries area assessment.
12- An Environmental Management Plan and Invasive Species Management Plan will be submitted and a permanent Clerk of Works to monitor the effect on the Environment and complaints from the public.
I believe the time has come to work in cooperation with Irish Water and develop a common concern for the environment. They have shown their willingness to really listen to the public and we have shown our willingness to work together for the benefit of everyone.
We can balance between the abstraction and the environment.
Finally, we give our grateful thanks to the Inspector and Hydrologist and to An Bord Pleanála themselves for the wisdom to find a Win-Win situation in a most difficult case.

Donovan Webb wins Analog Devices Award for Best Technology at the BT Young Scientist

January 21st, 2018 -- Posted in Active, Ecology, Fish | No Comments »

Congratulations to Donovan for winning one of the top awards at the BT Young Scientist for River-Nanny– Analysis and Monitoring River Ecosystems -Balancing Drinking Water Use with Natural Environment in a Changing Climate. This is a monitoring system that will be installed along the River Varty and currently is being considered for a LEADER grant.

New River Vartry Monitoring, RiverNanny at BT Young Scientist

January 7th, 2018 -- Posted in Active, Ecology, Fish, Irish Water, Politics, River Basin Management, Water Directive, Water Scheme | No Comments »

Our prototype for River Vartry Protection Society’s plan to monitor the whole River has begun.  Donovan Webb was commissioned to produce a system to monitor Climate Change and parameters of the health of the river as a whole.  He has installed the prototype and has entered the BT Young Scientist and Technology this year with RiverNanny – Analysis and Monitoring River Ecosystems -Balancing Drinking Water Use with Natural Environment in a Changing Climate.  He will be on stand 3304 in the Technology section so do drop by and he will be happy to show you what he has done.  Do say you came from the River Vartry Protection Society and he will be pleased.  The exhibition is from the 11th to the 13th of January 2018.

This is a really unique and special application within the EU and should be a good start to really understanding the effects of Climate Change in our little river and hopefully many more in the future.

The Transition of the Ashford Weir to Ashford Waterscape!

December 11th, 2017 -- Posted in Active, Administration, Ecology, Fish, Politics | No Comments »

Wonderful news!  The River Vartry Protection Society has been accepted for a project from the National Strategy for Angling Development Fund.  The Ashford Weir has been in a lack of repair since January 2016 and with no champion to look after it.  We all know that the fish are better off without the Weir but it has left an ugly scar on the River Vartry.

Without action and without any future because of the size of the project, we decided to have a practical plan to divide the project into two parts.  The first part is to get the Wicklow County Council to fund removal of the existing concrete and to level and grade the river base according to a Design and Implementation Plan made by the Inland Fisheries Ireland.  The work will be undertaken by the WCC but YOU NEED TO CONTACT YOUR LOCAL COUNCILLOR TO GET THE MONEY FROM THE 2018 BUDGET! Wicklow County Council are agreeable to do the work, IFI are agreeable to advise and only we need to “press” our Local Representives to get Phase 1 complete.

The grant is for Phase 2, which will be an Architectural Contest to design an Ashford Waterscape that will eventually be voted for by the public and be constructed here at the Ashford Bridge.  At the same time we will remove Japanese Knotweed, trim the overhanging branches and generally clean up the area where the Weir once stood.  This is to enhance the habitat of the Salmon and angling potential of the River Vartry.

We are so pleased for this opportunity given by the National Strategy for Angling Development Fund 2017 to the River Vartry.

Irish Water provides River Vartry Dam Survey

July 18th, 2017 -- Posted in Active, Ecology, History, Irish Water, Threats | No Comments »

Irish Water kindly provided us with the River Vartry Dam Survey conducted the 2nd of October 2013 which is the basis for some of the remedial work planned in the new Water Treatment Plant.  We would like to give credit where credit is due and appreciate what Ned Fleming does for all of us by his diligence in protecting and keeping the Dam safe.  The report in general reflects this care and gives a good bill of health for a Dam that is mud and clay, constructed in 1865.  As a Category A Dam (where a breach could endanger lives in the community), the small suggestions are mostly part of the WTP’s normal maintenance program and the more long term remedies are part of the plan and urgency needed for the new WTP.

We are still concerned over the process to re-grade the Slipway and that it will not put any stress on the Dam.  We would prefer that there was an EIA and some public supervision over this critical phase of the new development as we are all located below it.  As well, we need to see that the rock removal does not put ANY mud, silt or other discharge into the river itself.

Thank you again for providing this document as this is the kind of cooperation we hope for in the future so that we can all enjoy the benefits of the River Vartry, both for it’s natural environment and it’s benefit to Dublin as a water resource.

Never Transparent with Irish Water

June 17th, 2017 -- Posted in Active, Irish Water, Politics, Water Directive | No Comments »

When working with Irish Water, nothing is simple and nothing is transparent.  Irish Water was unclear from its’ conception and continually presents itself as a Commercial Company when it wishes and a Government Utility when that is convenient.  Most people are not aware that Irish Water claim to Utility is that it is under the Gas Networks showing again the un-clear position.  From this, we do not ever feel we are being given all the information or the full story.

When queried by Professor Paul Johnston in the Oral Hearing about the slipway reconstruction, we got the nervous feeling that they were hiding something.  Heavy rock breaking equipment will be use next to the clay/mud dam of 1865 and the amount of solid rock to be removed is frightening.  When asked about vibration sensors being installed, there was silence.  The word leak was first mentioned in this response and although Irish Water had said that the 4.8 ML/day coming from the spillway was “unpredictable springs”, we have indicated that springs are not unpredictable and this might be explained as a LEAK.  Living down from the Dam, all of us are concerned that this subject was not considered important enough to flag a full independent EIA.

Again we fail to see the numbers adding up in their proposed “Upgrade”.  We know that 200 Million is budgeted and it will end up over 250 million when complete.  Irish Water says “No New Abstraction”.  We understand clearly why that is said, because if there is any new abstraction they fall under the 1942 Water Services Act and that would mean agreement of all of the Riparian Owners, us.  They have clearly stated some of the figures so let me try and make sense of these.  When convenient Irish Water states the average leakage as 10ML/day but it continually rises and recent times it has been over 15ML/day sometimes.  However to complicate matters more, they “Pump back” which is by throwing a big pipe into the river downstream of the leak, they take the water back into the works balancing out the leak.

Current Abstraction – 75 ML/day of which 10ML/day of which is leaked to the River Vartry and 65ML/day to Dublin.

(The new treatment works has the capacity of 85/90ML/day but they have no authorisation for this)

Annagolan Abstraction – 1.2 ML/day is taken down stream for Ashford/Cronrow leaving 8.8 ML/day into the river.

(Currently they are delivering 4.8 ML/day after pumping back which ends up as 3.6ML/day for the river after Annagolan Abstraction.)

Future Abstraction – 80ML/day which is the 75ML + the 5ML Compensatory Flow, however they will not be able to pump back from the day of Planning Permission, and have to close the Annagolan Abstraction within 6 months of commissioning the new plant.

What that means in the math is a gain of 10ML/day to Dublin but less 1.2ML/day to Ashford or 8.8 ML/day that they can sell to Dublin.

According to what was going to be charged via the water meters this works out to €2440.00 per million litres or a saving of 7.8 Million Euro per year.

I believe no sensible business would spend 250 million to gain 7.8 million euro a year.  Something doesn’t add up in the numbers game.  What are they not telling us?  Why not just work elsewhere on the Shannon and leave the Vartry Reservoir to struggle on until it is no longer necessary.  Why?



River Vartry vs Irish Water Oral Hearing Complete

June 15th, 2017 -- Posted in Active, Ecology, Fish, History, Irish Water, Politics, River Basin Management, Threats, Water Directive | No Comments »

The Oral Hearing is now complete and we would like to update everyone on the process and the sense of it as there are no results or conclusion that can be drown until a decision is made by An Bord Pleanála. There are some thing promised to look at that might give you a “better picture” of it. First have a look at the film Film – Save the River Vartry.

We are very satisfied with our performance over the three days, with little that we could improved upon. Alan Doyle, or solicitor gave an iron-clad argument for the absolute Legal Requirement for an EIA that was not required by the WCC. The lawyer for Irish Water did not even attempt to place counter arguments but just responded in a few words of “well I won’t waste the Inspectors and everyone’s time, that is what Mr. Doyle thinks, it is just not so.” Did he suspect, know, presume that the Inspector would never delay the building of the new Water Treatment Works by sending it back to Wicklow County Council for an EIA and a new planning process. He is probably right, as I too felt the decision was already made. The Oral Hearing might only be for our benefit to feel heard.

They may accommodate some of our concerns with further Conditions as the Inspector asked for a full list and Irish Water agreed to most of the conditions but… The Inspector is not obligated to place all our conditions to the Bord, nor is An Bord Pleanála required to listen to what the Inspector recommends. They very often these days, go against the Inspectors.

Before going into details, I have to say that EVERYONE behaved very kindly and friendly with little or almost no Adversarial Behaviour. There was a bit of it when Irish Water were trying destroy Inland Fisheries Ireland director Brian Beckett. It probably should have been stopped, and I was intending to point it out later, the impoliteness of it all, but people were too tired after three days. Even Irish Water’s Barrister had absorbed that this was a friendly atmosphere and that kind of cross-examination vs discussion was for the courts. Brian is one of the most knowledgeable persons of great integrity, and of absolute devotion to the Fish and the Rivers. We should all appreciate how fortunate we are to have him and his team looking after our Rivers.

Here is an interview with East Coast FM that gives some of the details I shared

There are several subject Headings for those who would like some detail.

EIA Case

The process of the Oral Hearing was flawed by the fact that at the hearing Irish Water gave us new material that was never part of the Planning Process and should have been. At 17:30 on Monday in 5 minutes, I found out what putting the discharge into the “head of the works” (which is all that was said in granting planning permission) really meant in a verbal explanation. I needed then to study up until 3:00 am to return at 9:00 am and produce my counter argument. This information will not reach the public and will never be seen by you and others who deserve to see this in proper sustainable planning. This was only one of the many new things like the methid how Irish Water are going to give us the limited 5ML/day “Compensatory Flow”. Something so fundamental should be part of the planning process and available for 6 weeks for you to comment on.
This objection that we made at the Oral Hearing was noted. Even such bad practice on behalf of the Planning Office and Irish Water, will not send this back to WCC.
The legal case for and EIA is sound and unshakeable. If someone is interested, write a comment and we will send it to you. That too is likely to be ignored.

Irish Water says 5ML/day was good since 1865 and the river was good, so we are going back to that!

This was picked arbitrarily and then on Monday backed up with Science done to prove that the arbitrary figure is correct. All of the data we have on flows is from 1950-1978 or mid-last century! There are “spot flows” taken a few days without having rain data or the raw data supplied. Any flow is nonsense without know if it rained two days before because the river can swell 5-7 inches from two nights of moderate rain. To illustrate the nonsense of this, I presented the picture of the place where the flow data was collected 70 years ago.

The little shed is now 3 meters away horizontally and 3 meters vertically from water. What is more evident is that Irish Water’s claim all is the same as it was for the last 150 years. Can you imagine what that gorge looked like in 1950 for water coming up to the red arrow on the picture above.

But unfortunately I think our argument for more water fell on deaf ears and will not be taken up. What we know absolutely is that the 5ML/day is 1/4 of what we are getting now, being leaks or not.

Fish Stocks

Brian Beckett and the IFI made the point that at Ashford and Newrath the fish quality went from GODD to HIGH in the last 2 years, parallel to us having more water. Irish Water wanted to destroy this argument completely, therefore the attack on him. Their attack was three pronged. First they said the increase was based on the decommission of the Ashford Treatment Work. We countered with the fact that surely it had some bearing but not of the increase in Ashford since that is above where the treatment works is! The second attack was that the EPA lists the status to GOOD still. IFI explained that this was in discussion, they had not updated their numbers and that they take the lowest value overall. The third point was that the status was GOOD before 2007 when the leaks started. IFI explained that the WFD only started then and there were not the statuses at that time. They were pressured to say that probably the status if compared would perhaps be equivalent to GOOD and Irish Water took that as a confirmation that the status has not changed, against our national experts on Fish.

I promised to put up the photos and video of the spawn. The fish are so resilient that in early November when we had two weeks light rain, there was enough water and the Salmon at sea knew that it would be the only opportunity and rushed up river for the spawn. Here is a video taken of just that and two more of the care and kindness of the Vartry Conservation and Angler’s Club shown to the fish as they only take sea trout on a catch and release program.

River Vartry Oral Hearing Monday 12th June

June 10th, 2017 -- Posted in Active, Ecology, Fish, Irish Water, Politics, River Basin Management, Threats, Water Directive | 3 Comments »

The day has almost arrived and we hope all of you will be there to help support our final drive to get Irish Water to do right by the Environment.

Here is a short video that we produced for this occasion. Save the River Vartry

We start at 11:00 on the 12th of June 2017 at the Glenview Hotel, Glen of the Downs. 13th and 14th start at 9:30

It is a David vs Goliath, River Vartry Protection Society vs Irish Water kind of event. We have great stones in our little pouch that can kill a giant, but it depends on skills on the day. Are we scared? Sure! When you face an ugly giant like Irish Water, you have reason to be afraid, but sometime right wins over wrong.

They spent hundreds of thousands of euro to hire the best consultants and lawyers to defend against us, but had they used this money to educate people about saving water instead, they would have the water they refuse the River Vartry.

Oral Hearing on River Vartry against Irish Water

May 28th, 2017 -- Posted in Active, Administration, Ecology, Fish, Irish Water, Politics, Threats | No Comments »

We have the Oral Hearing on June 12th, 13th and 14th at the Glenview Hotel, Glen of the Downs (if it takes the full 3 days).

This is very important that we have support on the days to see Irish Water do right by the River Vartry.

We know people work and for many it will be hard to take time off, but even if you can only drop in one of the days, it would be some support. We will be there from 11:00 to 17:00 on the 12th, 9:30 – 17:00 on the 13th and 14th.

We are as prepared as we can be and are very hopeful that An Bord Pleanála will see it our way and send Irish Water back to Wicklow County Council for a full independent EIA. We have a few surprises for them, so don’t miss it.

We want to see the NEW, (not UPGRADED as Irish Water prefer to call it), Water Treatment Plant is built, but want proper care taken of the environment, the river and the salmon. We hope to screen a short film of the River, never before seen, of huge salmon in vast numbers coming up the river for the spawn. It show how important our Mighty Little River Vartry is to the EU, Ireland and ourselves and the importance for us to build a State of the Art WTP showing that in Ireland we take care of our environment, not destroy it.

We hope to see you there.

Draft River Basin Management Plan Now Out

May 19th, 2017 -- Posted in Active, Fish, Politics, River Basin Management, Threats, Water Directive | No Comments »

The Draft River Basin Management Plan is now published and is a comprehensive view of Environmental Issues. This is a different approach as in the past. This is now just an overview of how Ireland intends to protect the Environment in accordance with EU Directives. This should be the most important overall document in Ireland dealing with Rivers, Water and all aspects of the Environment and how it affects these resources. This time the Plan has been divided into two parts, the first is an overview and has “no Teeth”, although being a good summary of what needs looking at. The Second part, not yet written, is the individual Basin Plans which should protect us. This part is up to us to make the Department of the Environment aware of our concerns and see that the River Vartry is cared for properly.

It is very important that as many people fill in a form and send it in as instructed


The main issues that are of concern that you should address in your form are

  • Water Treatment Abstraction
  • Water Treatment Discharge
  • Water Treatment Pollution

Remember, numbers count so see that your voice is heard.