I move that the Liffey Reservoir Bill, 1936, be read a Second Time. The purpose of the Bill is to provide for additional advances to the amount of £2,734,000 from the Central Fund to the Electricity Supply Board for the purposes of financing capital commitments to be undertaken by the Board in the period ending on the 31st March, 1938. That sum is required to provide for the installation of two additional steam units, for substantial extensions to the Board's transmission and distribution systems, and for the hydro-electric development of the River Liffey. The Bill before the House gives statutory effect to an agreement which was concluded in last June between the Dublin Corporation and the Electricity Supply Board, and it confers certain powers on the corporation, the effect of which is to combine with the hydro-electric development of the Liffey a scheme for the provision of an improved and additional supply of water for the City of Dublin and the surrounding area.
The promotion of this measure, and particularly the provision for the utilisation of the Liffey, affords what I think is a convenient opportunity for a brief survey, in retrospect, of the progress of electrical development in the Saorstát in recent years since, as a result of the expert investigation which was undertaken in 1924, legislation was first promoted to provide for the hydro-electric development of the Shannon. On the completion of the construction works the Electricity Supply Board was established in August of 1927 under the powers conferred by the Electricity Supply Act of that year: and under the powers conferred by the Act, and also by a series of subsequent enactments, capital advances have been made on many occasions from the Central Fund to the Electricity Supply Board to enable it to discharge its functions. When the experts presented their report at the end of 1924 the total generating capacity of public electricity works in the Saorstát, including the generating station of the Dublin United Tramways Company, was 33,000 kilowatts. The present capacity is 124,000 kilowatts, and this Bill before the House makes provision for the installation of 70,000 kilowatts additional capacity, bringing the total generating capacity of the Board's system to 194,000 kilowatts. The total amount of current generated when the experts made their report was estimated at 55,000,000 units per annum. It is now 270,000,000 units per annum and, when the additional capacity contemplated by this Bill is available the current generated will be in the region of 400,000,000 units per annum. The number of electricity consumers in the Saorstát in 1925 was 36,000; the number to-day is 130,000. The annual consumption of electricity in 1925 was 18 units per head of the whole population; the consumption to-day is 81 units per head, and the Board hopes to treble that figure in the course of the next few years. Industrial motive power load, which is the index, not merely of the increasing popularity of electricity as a source of industrial power, but also of our rapid industrial expansion, has increased from 29,600 horse power in 1931 to 68,800 horse power in 1936. The average price of current per unit has fallen from 2.66 pence in 1929-30 to 1.84 pence in 1935-36. The Board's capital receipts at the 31st March last, including the cost of all the Shannon works, and liabilities taken over from local authorities, was £11,206,000, and this Bill, as I explained, provides for additional advances amounting to £2,734,000. The revenue of the Board has increased from £478,000 in 1929-30 to £1,430,000 in 1935-36, and the revenue for the first seven months of the present year shows an improvement of £84,000 on the corresponding period of last year. The Board has paid all interest charges due to the Exchequer, and last year was able to set aside the substantial sum of £230,000 to a depreciation fund, and, I have no doubt, in a relatively short time, it will be in a position to provide full depreciation charges and, in addition, commence the repayment of Exchequer advances. The total number of persons employed by the Board is now approximately 2,500. I think the House will agree that the figures which I have just given present an impressive picture of progress, and provide me with ample justification in asking for the powers which this Bill proposes to confer.
Public interest in this Bill will, no doubt, be concentrated in the main on the Liffey hydro development scheme. I want to emphasise the fact that of the total advances of £2,734,000 for which the Bill provides, only £634,000 is appropriate to the Liffey scheme. The capacity of the Liffey plant may be taken at 30,000 kilowatts. The capacity of the two additional steam units, for which provision is made in the Bill, is 40,000 kilowatts, and the cost of these two units is £432,000. If any comparison is to be made between the figures which I have just given, it must be borne in mind in this connection that the cost of the operation of steam plant is relatively higher than that of hydro-electric plant, as the outlay on coal, in the first place, offsets the increased standing charges incidental to the higher capital expenditure which a hydro-electric scheme involves. Again, the maximum theoretical number of units which can be produced from the Poulaphouca scheme, that is the Liffey development scheme, excluding possible subsequent development at Leixlip, is 39,000,000 units in an average flow year; and it is estimated that the amount of power which can be usefully employed will be 30,000,000 units at the time when the total consumption of the Board's system is 400,000,000 units per annum, increasing to 34,000,000 units when the Board is generating 500,000,000 units per annum. For as far ahead as it is possible to see, the Shannon will remain the most important source of supply of electricity; new and existing steam plant will reckon second in importance, and the Liffey third. It is necessary to stress these facts so as to place in proper perspective the scheme for hydro-electric development of the Liffey. The output of the Liffey will always form a relatively small fraction of the total output of the Electricity Supply Board's system.
Proposals for the hydro-electric development of the Liffey have been discussed from time to time, since the question of electricity development in the Saorstát first attracted attention. In 1922 Doctor Buchi, the well-known Swiss water power engineer, reported to the Dublin Corporation on the subject of the utilisation of the water power of the Liffey for generating electricity for Dublin and district. The experts who sent in a report at the end of 1924 on the Shannon hydro-electric scheme visualised the development of the River Shannon in two possible directions. They stated—I am quoting from their report:—
"One way would be to develop the Shannon river fully with as large storage basins as possible. Only at a later stage would supplementary energy from steam stations or from the Liffey be resorted to for covering the deficiency in dry years."
And further they stated:—
"Another way would be to take in supplementary energy from a future development on the Liffey or from steam stations at an earlier stage of the Shannon development. The possibility is by no means excluded of the latter course being the better one."
The Electricity Supply Board decided in practice that the second of these alternatives was the more desirable, and the Board's policy has, accordingly, followed that line. Hence we have had a gradual development of the steam station at the Pigeon House as a stand-by for dry weather, and now it is proposed to utilise the Liffey before installing the fifth unit on the Shannon. This alternative method of development does not mean that less use is to be made of the resources of the Shannon, and that can best be seen by reference to the figures given in the experts' report from which I have quoted. They anticipated that, with six generating units installed on the Shannon, 237,000,000 units of electricity would be developed there. In fact, in the last financial year, although the water-flow was 14 per cent. below the average, 211,000,000 units were developed from the Shannon, and by the introduction of steam and this proposed Liffey development the Board anticipates that it will be drawing about 301,000,000 units per annum from the Shannon before the fifth unit is installed at Ardnacrusha. Thus, as the experts suggested it was possible, a better utilisation of the Shannon resources has been secured by the alternative method of developing supplementary energy in parallel.
On page 115 of their report the experts, in speaking of the Liffey scheme, stated that they were:—
"Of opinion that for general, national and national-economic reasons, the combination Shannon-Liffey had advantages over the combination Liffey-Shannon, and that, accordingly, the further study of the Liffey scheme in its connection with the Shannon plant could be deferred at least until such date as the partial development of the Shannon was utilised to the full."
That last stage was, in fact, reached about 1934. On page 117 of their report the experts continue:—
"In the opinion of the experts, the Liffey river will also be developed later on, either during the further development of the Shannon or more probably after this, depending on how the consumption of electricity develops. The Liffey storage would in all probability make possible a valuable compensating system for the full development of the Shannon. Nevertheless, it will be necessary to examine if it would not be more advantageous to use the existing steam stations, or eventually a new steam station for energy supply at low water periods or for covering peak loads. In about 20 years the fully developed Shannon, together with the Liffey plant, and the steam stations, would together probably build an advantageous source of electricity supply for the Free State."
That is the quotation from the experts' report. That report was submitted in 1925, and they were then visualising the situation which would exist about 1945. Broadly speaking, it may be said that the scheme appears to be developing in accordance with their anticipations. The Electricity Supply Board submitted a preliminary report to me in 1934 on the question of the development of the Liffey. The board thought it advisable to call in consulting engineers to examine the proposals. Dr. Buchi, who had reported to the Corporation in 1922 upon the Liffey scheme, as I have mentioned, and Professor Meyer-Peter, one of the experts who reported to the Government in 1925 on the Shannon scheme, were retained. These two engineers submitted a report to the Electricity Supply Board in 1935. Dr. Buchi made a separate report to the Dublin Corporation. I may say at this stage that the proposals recommended by these two engineers, and adopted by the Board, do not differ essentially from those submitted originally to the Dublin Corporation.
The scheme provides for the erection of a dam in the rocky gorge a short distance above Poulaphouca Bridge. The erection of this dam will create a reservoir, the water level in which will be 615 feet above Ordnance datum, with provision for a possible raising of the level to 618 feet. The level of the water will be, roughly, the level of the existing Poulaphouca Road Bridge. The area which will be flooded will be, approximately, 5,500 acres, and the volume of the water which will be stored will be 166,000,000 cubic metres for utilisable storage of about 148,000,000 cubic metres. From the retaining dam a head-race gallery some 1,300 feet long will lead the water to a surge tower from which a penstick will lead to the principal power house, situated on the right bank of the river about 300 yards below Poulaphouca waterfall. Below this main power house a smaller power station is proposed at Golden Falls in which the water will be again utilised. The maximum fall available, including Poulaphouca Fall and Golden Falls, will be approximately 220 feet. The power could be made available in one power house situate at Golden Falls, but it has been found that the two power plants will be a more economic proposal. The water below Golden Falls will pass down the channel of the river.
The Dublin Corporation will design an arrangement by which they will be able to draw off a supply of drinking water from the Poulaphouca reservoir. There is a further utilisable fall on the river at Leixlip. The development of that fall was included in the original Dublin Corporation proposals to which I have made reference. That fall may in time be developed by the Electricity Supply Board, but its development is not provided for in the present proposals. The potential production of the Liffey power plant must, as I have already indicated, be described as small in comparison with the present production of the Shannon power station. But its value lies less in the actual quantity produced than in the fact that owing to the large storage capacity of the Poulaphouca reservoir it can generate energy when the Shannon power station has not sufficient energy owing to lack of water, as for example in summer, or when the Shannon power station, in consequence of its limited output, cannot quite cover the peaks of the system, as in winter. The Liffey power may be regarded as first-class power, in asmuch as it can be made available at any season of the year, and when it is most wanted. The storage at Poulaphouca will impound 50 per cent. of the total flow of the Liffey in an average year, whereas on the Shannon the storage amounts to, approximately, only 5 per cent. of the annual flow. The River Liffey has the further advantage that it is a comparatively short distance from Dublin, which, as Deputies are aware, is the chief centre of consumption, so that the energy can be transmitted safely and cheaply to that centre. Owing to the large storage capacity of the Liffey it can be called upon to supply to the system at its full capacity at any time, and at short notice, if there should be a temporary breakdown elsewhere.
It has been estimated that the Liffey power development can be regarded as economic as compared with steam power when the total consumption on the Electricity Supply Board system is about 400,000,000 units. At present it appears probable that that point will be reached in approximately four years' time. At that point of time, according to present plans, the installed capacity of the machinery at Ardnacrusha will be 80,000 kilowatts; the installed capacity of steam plant, 84,000 kilowatts; and the probable installed Liffey plant, 30,000 kilowatts. Apart from the Liffey scheme, provision is also made in this Bill, as I have stated, for the installation of two new steam units. One of those will probably be brought into commission at once, or at any rate as soon as possible. The Electricity Supply Board considers that a second additional unit must be installed in time to carry the peak load in the winter of 1938. Each of these two new units will have a capacity of 20,000 kilowatts.
Provision is also made for the construction of a new 110 k.v. line from Dublin via Waterford to Cork. This is necessitated primarily by the growth of the load, but the building of the new line will also provide additional security for the supply of the City of Cork which is at present fed by a single 110 k.v. line form Ardnacrusha, and it will increase the capacity of the complete 38 k.v. net work in the South. Provision is also made in the Bill for an extension of the Inchicore plant, and an increase of its transformer capacity, as well as for an improvement of the 38 k.v. transmission system at Dundalk and Galway. £200,000 is provided for distribution services and meters, and represents a normal provision on the basis of the current rate of growth. £182,000 is provided for the extension of the distribution system, £120,000 for cooker hireage and water heater hireage schemes, and £120,000 for additional capital outlay in connection with public lighting. Provision is also included for expenditure on the acquisition and maintenance of the Shannon fisheries.
So far as the Electricity Supply Board is concerned, the provisions of Part III of the Bill are based on the corresponding provisions of the Electricity Supply Acts, with such consequential modifications as the circumstances of the present scheme require. Deputies will observe that, while Part III of the Bill, which relates to the Electricity Supply Board, and Part IV, which relates to the Dublin Corporation, are complementary to each other, there are certain differences in the form of the provisions relating to the acquisition of land and so forth as between one part and the other. These differences are attributable to varying procedure under different codes of law. In the case of the proceedings of the Board under Part III, the Lands Clauses Acts, as incorporated and varied by the Electricity Supply Acts, have been applied, and, as regards the proceedings of the Corporation under Part IV, the relevant provisions of the Public Health Acts have been applied, but not varied except to a minor extent.
I do not think it is necessary for me to enlarge on the necessity for and the urgency of this measure in its relation to the water supply of Dublin City. It is, I think, generally known that the present needs of the city are not being adequately met, and that the time is, in fact, overdue when action to supplement the present supply must be taken. Perhaps a brief historical survey will help Deputies to understand the position. The earliest public water supply brought into Dublin was taken from the River Dodder, somewhere in the vicinity of Templeogue, and conducted to the city through a channel which is still known as "The City Watercourse." That water was stored in what were known as basins or cisterns, and supplied at the street level. For over two centuries the city was supplied in that manner. The expansion of the city area and population caused the city councillors to seek further supplies, and about the year 1775 arrangements were made to take a supplementary supply from the Grand Canal. Later on, a further supply was taken from the Royal Canal. The water from the Grand Canal was stored at the Blessington Street Basin, which was specially constructed for that purpose. It is still in existence although it is not now used for that purpose. The supplies were all low pressure, and very intermittent.
In 1861 the Corporation of Dublin obtained the statutory powers to extract water from the River Vartry and provide a high-pressure supply for the city. The Act also empowered the corporation to provide a supply for certain areas outside the city, mainly neighbouring townships and portions of the adjoining rural areas along the line of distribution. In 1930, when the urban districts of Rathmines and Rathgar were merged in the City of Dublin, the supply of water from the River Dodder at Bohernabreena, which was provided by the former urban district council to serve the inhabitants of the urban district, became a part of the Dublin water system. The service reservoir at Bohernabreena has a capacity of 12,000,000 gallons. Even under the combined system, the needs of the present city area are not being adequately met. There has been a very rapid expansion of the city, both in area and in population, and that has been accompanied by an even more than proportionate increase in the demand for water to meet the development in sanitary requirements. In 1861 the population of Dublin and the adjoining urban areas of Rathmines and Pembroke was 306,000, and to-day the present city, which includes those areas, has a population of 468,000. The corporation are also under an obligation to supply the extra municipal areas, which, as I have already indicated, embrace the adjoining rural areas, as well as the Bray Urban District, and portions of the rural areas along the line of distribution from Roundwood. The area of supply is, therefore, very wide and it is imperative that the existing system should be supplemented as quickly as possible. The corporation has given close attention to the problem for some time past. The laying of an additional main from Roundwood was considered but, owing to the increased demand which has arisen and which is likely further to increase in the future, it was decided that such a course would not offer the same advantages as would be derived from an independent supply obtained from the River Liffey.
While the Liffey proposals were under consideration by the corporation, the Electricity Supply Board had in mind the possibility of impounding at some future date the waters of the Liffey to supplement the Shannon scheme. It will be gathered from what I have already said that such a supplementary scheme was not one of immediate urgency from the view-point of the Electricity Supply Board but, nevertheless, it was felt that it would prove of definite economic value eventually and that the best results could be achieved by the Corporation and the Electricity Supply Board uniting in carrying out a scheme which would meet both their purposes. The agreement which is scheduled to the Bill, and which it is proposed to confirm by the Bill, is the outcome of the negotations between these two bodies. So far as the water supply scheme is concerned, the corporation have had expert advice in the matter and they are satisfied that the scheme when completed will, in conjunction with the Vartry scheme, provide an adequate supply for all purposes not only in the area at present served from the Vartry, but also in adjoining areas over many years to come.
The Dublin Board of Public Health is taking a keen interest in the present proposals. When the new scheme is in operation, the corporation should be in the position to supply the board of health with sufficient quantities of water for any areas in the county requiring supplies. The Bill makes full provision in this respect and also for supplies to the County of Kildare if required. The distribution of the supply within the area of any of the sanitary authorities in Dublin or Kildare will be a matter for the sanitary authority concerned. An adequate supply for the County Borough of Dublin and the areas outside the county borough that are entitled to be supplied by the Dublin Corporation must first be met but, subject to this condition, it will rest with the corporation and the sanitary authority seeking a supply to settle the terms upon which the supply is to be given. If there is any disagreement as to the terms of the supply, or as to the point of supply, the matter will be determined by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health.
The estimated cost of the reservoir and the Poulaphouca-Golden Falls works and the transmission lines is £760,000. This expenditure may be broadly analysed as follows: dam and civil construction, £387,000; roads, bridges and the acquisition of lands, etc., £183,000; mechanical-electrical works and equipment, £190,000. The Dublin Corporation, in consideration of its right to draw up to a maximum quantity of 20,000,000 gallons of water per day, will contribute a lump sum of £126,000 towards the cost of the works, thus reducing the expenditure to be met by the Electricity Supply Board to £634,000. The withdrawal of water by the corporation will reduce the possible electrical output by about 10 per cent. The works to be carried out by the Electricity Supply Board will provide employment for about 600 men for three years. In addition to the expenditure to be incurred by the Electricity Supply Board, the capital expenditure to be met by the corporation will amount to £820,000, including the contribution of £126,000 to the Electricity Supply Board. The expenditure to be incurred by the Dublin Corporation on works which will be carried out by the corporation itself will, therefore, be £694,000; this will, it is estimated, provide wholetime employment for 1,200 men for three years. It is anticipated that water from the Liffey scheme will be available to the corporation in the spring of 1940.
The agreement entered into by the corporation and the Electricity Supply Board provides that the Electricity Supply Board shall carry out all construction works and acquire the lands necessary for the creation of a reservoir in the Liffey Valley immediately upstream of Poulaphouca. The corporation, as I have said, will pay to the Electricity Supply Board a sum of £126,000 by way of contribution towards the cost and expenses incurred by the Board on these works and also by way of indemnification to the Supply Board for constructing this reservoir at a somewhat earlier date than would otherwise be required by the Board for the purpose of generating electricity. The agreement also stipulates that: (1) The main dam and ancillary works are to be constructed to such an extent as will permit of the reservoir being filled to a level of 576 feet above Ordnance datum by the 1st January, 1940. This development is referred to in the agreement as the partial development. (2) The works are to be completed to give a top-water level of not less than 610 feet above Ordnance datum by the 31st March, 1950, and this development is referred to as the "full development." The Board may, however, complete the full development at any time previous to the 31st March, 1950. (3) The operation of the sluice gates in the dams regulating the flow of the river from the reservoir is under the control of the Board. (4) The construction and operation of the intake from the reservoir to the pipe line supplying the City of Dublin is the responsibility of the corporation. (5) While the reservoir is in the stage of partial development, the Electricity Supply Board cannot make use of any of the water impounded for the purpose of generating electricity. After the completion of the full development, electric power can be generated without restriction by means of the water stored in the reservoir until the level of the reservoir falls to 575 feet up to the 1st January, 1945; 578 feet from that to the 31st March, 1950; 580 feet from that to the 31st March, 1960; and 581 feet after the 31st March, 1960. When the level of the reservoir falls to these limits, electrical power cannot be generated. Simultaneously with the drawing off of water by the Board for the purpose of generating electricity, the corporation have a right to draw off water at a rate not exceeding 20,000,000 gallons per day. (6) During the construction of the reservoir the Board will carry out certain specified works, such as removal of houses, levelling of fences, cutting down of trees, and fencing of the reservoir within the limits of the reservoir required by the corporation for maintaining the purity of the water. After the completion of the reservoir, the corporation will do such maintenance works as are solely required for ensuring the purity of the water. The maintenance of the constructed work required to create the reservoir will, however, be the responsibility of the Board.
There are various penalties set out in the clauses of the agreement which will come into operation in the event of either party drawing greater quantities of water from the reservoir than those stipulated in the agreement.
I think that gives a fair picture of the main purposes of the Bill. Its primary purpose can be briefly stated as confirming an agreement between the Dublin Corporation and the Electricity Supply Board, which is a Schedule to the Bill. The agreement is obviously, I think, in the interests of both parties and it is one which should be approved of by the Dáil on that account and, therefore, I confidently recommend the Bill.