Drainage Scheme nears completion
The end result of one of the biggest engineering projects the city has ever seen is that the water quality of the Abbey and Shannon rivers has "improved dramatically".
Project engineers told the Limerick Leader this week that you can see the difference just by looking at the river.
"People are telling us that they are amazed at the clarity of the water. You can walk over the Shannon Bridge now without odours hitting you," says Hugh Campbell, senior resident engineer of the project.
He says that while they cannot put a percentage figure on how much cleaner the river is now following the project, they are certain that there is a vast improvement.
"Before there used to be 50,000 cubic metres of sewage being pumped into the river in Limerick every day; and now that is simply not happening anymore," explains Michael Adam, Limerick Main Drainage boss.
When asked if the river was clean enough to swim in, his colleague Hugh Campbell, senior resident engineer, said he would not be encouraging anyone to go swimming in the river.
Spots along the river which have been cleaned up considerably include anywhere from the New Road in Thomondgate downstream.
This means that the water quality at the Corbally Baths, for example, has not improved due to this new infrastructure, as it is upstream.
The project involved the building of 30 kilometres of sewers, a huge tunnel under the Dock Road and a wastewater treatment plant at Bunlicky on the Dock Road.
The engineers say the project is "vital" for the development of Limerick in the future.
The Limerick Main Drainage project has hit the headlines over the years for various reasons, most notably for the scandal surrounding the sacking of a company who were charged with carrying out the 4.2 project. The contract, which involved the laying of a sewer from Watchhouse Cross to Shannon Bridge, resulted in a lengthy legal battle between LMD and Uniform Construction.
The Public Accounts committee at one point declared the contract had over-ran its budget by 83 per cent.
And politicians voiced their concerns about public money being wasted.
The total project had originally been estimated to cost £100 million (or £127 million), but Mr Adam confirmed to me this week that the final cost turned out to be much higher-€220 million in fact.
The final finishing touches to the main drainage project-sorting out a few connections and making improvements to existing sewers-should be complete by the Autumn.
The project was awarded the annual excellence award by the Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland in April.