Sometimes an idea comes along that is just so good, so right, so advantageous on all counts that it is simply irresistible. This idea comes from the Americas, from the US Coast Guard. Adapted to the Irish inland waterways, and specifically to the Shannon, it could:
- help to promote industry in recession-hit rural areas
- create direct employment
- help to stimulate indirect employment
- promote Irish energy independence by reducing reliance on imported hydrocarbons
- counter pollution of water-courses
- reduce the number of heavy trucks using remote rural roads
- use environmentally-friendly water transport, by barge along the Shannon
- honour and promote the industrial heritage of Co Leitrim and the transport heritage of the Shannon
- help to defray the costs of maintaining the Shannon Navigation
- solve Dublin’s water supply problem, at least for non-potable water.
How could anybody resist?
The US Coast Guard has proposed that wastewater from fracking [PDF] should be transported by barge, rather than by truck or railway train, from the fracking sites to remote storage or treatment facilities. So, when fracking begins around Lough Allen, the wastewater could be carried down the Shannon by barge and, if necessary, pumped to Dublin.
It sounds like a winner to me.