Tag Archives: Lough Ennell

Royal Canal water supply

On 26 November 2012 I noted that

The Royal Canal water supply applications have been approved by An Bord Pleanala. There were two separate applications […] but they were in effect treated as one.

There were conditions attached, but I concluded that

If I remember correctly, the amount of water available from Lough Ennell will not always provide enough (eg in a dry season) to keep the canal full. Still, this is a significant advance for Waterways Ireland and for Royal Canal enthusiasts.

So here we are, almost two years later, and the work of providing a supply from Lough Ennell to the Royal Canal, reckoned to be about a five-month job, has doubtless been long completed, no?


The work has not yet started and Waterways Ireland will be lucky if it gets done within the next year.

As I understand it — and if, Gentle Reader, you have more information, do please leave a Comment below (your name can be kept out of public view if you like) — there are three sources of delay:

  • first, I understand that there is a technical issue about one of the conditions attached to the approval; it is felt that the condition is unworkable, but that getting it changed might take some time. I presume it’s one of the conditions 2(a) to 2(d) that I quoted two years ago and, looking at the proposed orders published in the press [PDF], I suspect it might be the requirement to maintain the lake level at or above 79.325 mOD Malin Datum. However, I don’t really know
  • second, Waterways Ireland took over Clonsingle Weir, at the outlet from Lough Ennell, by Compulsory Purchase. Owners of mills, who generate electricity from the Brosna, have submitted claims for compensation. I understand that an arbitration hearing, lasting four days, is scheduled to be help in May 2015
  • third, responsibility for the scheme has moved from Westmeath County Council to Irish Water. Which may have other things on its mind.

Irish Water has published its proposed Capital Investment Programme [PDF] but Appendix 1, the Investment Plan Project Summary, is in a separate file [PDF]. Category B is headed Review Scope and Commence Construction and it includes

Mullingar Regional Water Supply Scheme (G) … Lough Ennell Abstraction.

I can’t work out what “(G)” means. A few items are so marked; a few others are marked “(H)”; most items have neither.

The Capital Investment Programme [CIP] document says:

 The CIP is dominated by contractual commitments entered into previously by Local Authorities, and which have now transitioned to Irish Water. In the 2014-2016 period, Irish Water will fund these contracts to completion and bring forward programmes and prioritised projects to commence. At the same time, it will progress a large portfolio of projects that are at the planning and design stage, reviewing their scope, budgets and, where appropriate, timing to favour maximising the performance of the existing assets through intensified capital maintenance that might allow deferral of major capital investment.

Emphasis mine. So that raises the possibility that Irish Water will decide not to fund the abstraction scheme but will rather opt to pay for continued pumping.

It is, of course, quite possible that I have misunderstood these difficult matters, so I will be glad to hear from anyone with better information.

Incidentally, reviewing Irish Water’s documents suggests to me that there are people there who know what they are doing and who have the expertise to manage large and complex operations. That differentiates them from the politicians in government and opposition, few of whom (as far as I can see) have any experience of running anything more complex than a parish social.



A little information on Lacy’s Canal

Here is a new page about Lacy’s Canal.


The River Brosna has the distinction of supplying water to two Irish waterways: the Shannon, which it joins at Shannon Harbour, and, further up, the Royal, which is to get a supply of water pumped from Lough Ennell, outside Mullingar.

The Old River Shannon Research Group promises to give special attention to the Brosna this year, so we may expect to learn more about this interesting river — without having to get our own feet wet.

Pumping algae

Do algae pass through pumps? I don’t know, but I ask because boating, bathing and animals have been banned in Lough Ennell where blue-green algae have been found. Lough Ennell is to supply water to the Royal Canal, although I presume it will take some time before it begins to do so. But perhaps, even if algae made it through the pumps, they would die in the Royal. If you know, Gentle Reader, do please leave a Comment below.

Royal water (current status)

I have updated my page about Royal Canal feeders with some information provided by Nigel Russell of WI to the An Bord Pleanála oral hearing on the Royal water supply scheme.

Incidentally, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, WI’s parent department in RoI, was among the (few) objectors to the proposed abstraction of water from Lough Ennell, although it was in favour of ceasing to abstract water from Lough Owel [Inspector’s report pp11–12]. Indeed it seemed to have some reservations about the reopening of the Royal Canal, not on economic grounds but because “some important nature consideration issues need to be fully addressed”.

Royal water

The Royal Canal water supply applications have been approved by An Bord Pleanala. There were two separate applications [see here and here] but they were in effect treated as one. There are five PDFs available on each page and I haven’t read all of them yet. However, on a first glance, I note that:

2. The proposed development shall be operated as follows:

(a) Rates of abstraction from Lough Ennell to the Royal Canal shall be as specified  in the public notices and, in particular, shall not exceed 43,636 cubic metres of water in any 24 hour continuous period and subject to a total maximum abstraction of 6,586,363 cubic metres per annum.

(b) Abstraction from Lough Ennell to supply the Royal Canal shall cease when the  lake level reaches 79.325 mOD Malin Datum, being the crest level of Clonsingle weir, measured at Clonsingle weir by continuous monitoring.

(c) The fish pass at Clonsingle weir shall incorporate a minimum flow of 0.29m3/second.

(d) A minimum flow of 682 m3/day (0.5MGD), taken directly from Lough Owel, and excluding water from the fish farm, shall be retained in the original canal feeder.

Reason: In the interest of protecting the integrity of the Lough Ennell Special Area of Conservation and the ecological interest of the River Brosna and the canal feeder, and in the interest of protecting material assets at Lough Ennell and the River Brosna.

If I remember correctly, the amount of water available from Lough Ennell will not always provide enough (eg in a dry season) to keep the canal full. Still, this is a significant advance for Waterways Ireland and for Royal Canal enthusiasts.

Royal water

In April 2012 I wrote about the proposed supply of water from Lough Ennell to the Royal Canal. I said that

[…] the Lough Ennell proposal had to go to An Bord Pleanála. At any rate, two applications had to be made, one for the water abstraction and the other for the physical works. In practice, the two are being handled as one.

An Bord Pleanála asked Westmeath County Council for some more information; that has now been supplied and a decision is expected by 11 June 2012.

I have just checked An Bord Pleanála’s website for the two applications PW3005 (lodged 9 December 2011) and JA0030 (lodged 7 October 2011); both say:

Proposed decision date not available at this time.

I do not know why decisions are taking so long.

Royal water: oral hearing

Irish Times report on the oral hearing into the proposed abstraction of water from Lough Ennell. The hearing is scheduled for three days at the Mullingar Park Hotel and a decision is expected by 11 June 2012. The two cases are being heard together:

PW3005: Ladestown, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.
Case Type: Provisional Order Water Supplies Act (Board Reference: PL25 .PW3005)
Description: Taking of a Supply of Water from Lough Ennell to Supply the Royal Canal.


JA0030: Kilpatrick Bridge and Clonsingle, County Westmeath.
Case Type: LA Non-Road development – Application (Board Reference: PL25 .JA0030)
Description: Royal Canal Water Supply Scheme from Lough Ennell, Ladestown.



Royal water

The Mullingar Advertiser discusses the Royal Canal water supply here. Some background info on this site here, here and here.

Lough Ennell and the Royal Canal

Here is an account of the background to, and the main features of, the proposed supply of water from Lough Ennell to the summit level of the Royal Canal. It does not discuss the amounts of water involved; I intend to cover that on a separate page.