Backyard water service replacement programme saves over one million litres of water across Wicklow

05 December 2022

Safeguarding the water supply in Wicklow is a vital focus for Uisce Éireann to drive down leakage and reduce the number of bursts and unplanned outages impacting communities across the county. Since 2018, Uisce Éireann in partnership with Wicklow County Council have saved over one million litres of water through the backyard water service replacement programme. These works have brought significant benefits to communities across the county in terms of water conservation, improved water quality, and enhanced security of supply.

The Garden County known for its outstanding beauty, hosting Ireland’s largest national park, has seen over 900 homes benefit from the successful completion of backyard water service replacements across Wicklow. The water savings achieved since 2018 equates to the equivalent water usage of over 8,000 people (per day), which is comparable to the daily required water supply for the Wicklow towns of Baltinglass and Blessington.

Backyard water services are found in older areas, often installed to the rear of a customer’s property, and typically made of cast iron or lead. Due to the age and deteriorating condition of the pipework, they are often a significant source of leakage and supply disruption for customers. They are usually shared, running through several neighbouring properties making it difficult to detect and repair leaks. Where homeowners share a connection, leaks and bursts impact all connected properties, resulting in low pressure and/or outages.

Speaking about the benefits of the project, Joe Carroll, Regional Delivery Lead at Uisce Éireann, said, “Aged backyard water service connections are a huge source of leakage and continue to impact communities right across Ireland, causing low pressure, supply disruption, and issues relating to water quality. Replacing these old water mains and service connections in poor condition, strives to eliminate existing leaks and significantly reduce the amount of clean drinking water lost into the ground. It is vital to future proof water supplies and provide resilient networks across Wicklow.”

Joe added, “Without the support of local communities getting behind these projects this essential investment would not have the desired effect. We would like to thank each homeowner who has engaged with us over the past number of years, leading to the success of the programme, and we look forward to continuing to work on replacing backyard water services into the future to provide a more secure and sustainable water supply across Wicklow

This essential programme is only successful if all customers on a shared backyard water service connection, support and facilitate these vital works, so that old and leaking mains can be decommissioned and properties can be transferred to a new water main supply located to the front of the property. Uisce Éireann would like to thank all the communities from Bray in the North to Arklow in the South of the county who have engaged with us and assisted in the provision of our backyard water services programme. This will not only result in significant water savings but will also reduce the number of bursts and outages, future proofing the water supply for generations to come.

The successful completion of these strategic projects has resulted in approximately 17km of new watermains being installed across the county.

Noel Doody, Water Inspector with Wicklow County Council is fully aware of the challenges but also the overwhelming success of backyard water services throughout his native county; “Each year millions of litres of clean drinking water are lost into the ground due to old and damaged pipes throughout the network. The only solution in many cases is to replace the pipes entirely. In communities served by aged backyard water services, it can be extremely difficult to detect and repair leaks when the issue is on private property and there are neighbouring properties involved.

Noel added, “These issues coupled with historic challenges whereby unknowingly homeowners have built extensions or patios over water networks can lead to more complex repairs. That is why the backyard water service replacement programme provides the solution to upgrading the network and largely eliminating legacy issues such as frequent bursts and low water pressure in these communities while improving the water quality.

A regularised and efficient service supplied by the installation of new mains to the front of these properties has provided the necessary solutions to these ongoing problems for hundreds of customers in Wicklow. Uisce Éireann and its appointed contractor Ward & Buke Construction look forward to continuing this essential work into 2023 and beyond.

The National Leakage Reduction Programme helps provide a more reliable water supply to Irish communities by reducing high levels of leakage and improving water quality. Since 2018, its delivery represents an investment of over €500 million to upgrade the underground water network across the country through the delivery of the Leakage Reduction Programme. Uisce Éireann is also investing a further €250 million annually up to the end of 2030 directed at fixing leaks and replacing pipes to provide a more reliable water supply. To find out more about Uisce Éireann’s national programme of works to reduce leakage and improve Ireland’s water supply visit our National Leakage Reduction Programme page.

Uisce Éireann is responsible for the delivery of all public water and wastewater services in Ireland. We are committed to continuously upgrading and developing critical infrastructure to support the growth needed in housing and across our economy, while protecting the environment and safeguarding water supplies.