Pressure regulation valve
Pressure regulation valve

Irish Water’s Leakage Reduction Programme Regional Lead, Joe Carroll had November 28, 2020, marked in his calendar for a long time. Pressure would become the word of the day for many reasons. Irish Water, working in partnership with Kilkenny County Council completed a major pressure management project in Kilkenny City that would lead to 900,000 litres of water per day being saved. However, a large-scale interruption to the water supply was required over an extended duration to deliver this complex project which meant that careful planning and collaboration with all stakeholders was a top priority.

Joe explains why managing pressure on our water network is critical.

The size and scale of the leakage challenge is well documented. Many people will believe that reducing leakage is only about replacing old pipes or fixing bursts. However, managing pressure on the water network is another key aspect to reducing leakage and providing a more stable and reliable water supply to our customers. What does managing pressure mean? Drinking water has to travel under pressure to make it from the plant where it is produced through a complex network of pipes up hills and around bends before it reaches our taps. This pressure can challenge joints, fittings and weaknesses in the pipe work. Managing pressure is all about ensuring there is enough pressure to get water to our taps but not so much pressure that it damages the pipes along the way. Balance is the key.

Joe and his colleagues had studied the complexities for some time and had prepared for all eventualities.

“Kilkenny City is fed from Troyswood Water Treatment Plant. The main issue was that an outdated pressure regulation valve was causing major pressure issues across the water supply network. The high pressures were causing bursts and unplanned water supply outages for the local community, high levels of leakage and repair costs. The works completed over three weeks at Troyswood involved replacing the old valve with a modern pressure regulation valve.”

To make the challenge even greater, the valve replacement was on the trunk main leaving the water treatment plant, so there was no way for Joe or his colleagues to avoid a widespread water outage during delivery. Supply interruptions during water network improvements are routine but are generally short in duration. The scale of area impacted is usually small too also meaning all customers impacted can be directly notified. However, this interruption to the water supply was different. A minimum 22-hour window was required to complete this significant project.

There were potentially a wide range of customers impacted by the interruption to water supply. 18,000 properties in total including homes and businesses. We understood this was hugely inconvenient with Covid-19 requirements in place, but these works were vital to the security of the water supply for Kilkenny. There were several stakeholders involved to successfully deliver the works. Irish Water, Kilkenny County Council and Ward and Burke Construction were required to work in unison to plan successful engineering and communications. Health and safety were paramount in the planning process also. Communications issued across radio, print media, social media, through direct signage and elected representatives and business organisations were contacted directly.”

Thankfully for Joe, his colleagues and the residents of Kilkenny City, the works were a huge success, finishing ahead of schedule on the day. Joe was quick to praise all involved in the planning, coordination and successful delivery of these works,
“To see these major improvement works being undertaken throughout the night with such high standards of safety, quality, efficiency and accuracy of success was a credit to each and every person involved. Their expertise within the Water Sector ensured the security of this vital resource well into the future for the people of Kilkenny City. But what benefits can be seen now complete?

“The National Leakage Management Team have confirmed there are clear positives already. It’s anticipated to generate a 15% reduction in burst frequencies, reducing interruption to customer supply and therefore reduced operational costs. The new valve has remote capabilities too enabling improved operational control. With these improved levels of pressure control the lifespan of associated downstream assets will also be extended. The completion of works will allow the existing infrastructure to serve possible new developments in Kilkenny City. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the local community in Kilkenny for their patience while we completed this vital upgrade to the water infrastructure.”

Tim Butler, Director of Water Services in Kilkenny County Council echoed Joes’ sentiment on the importance of the works and the patience of the Kilkenny community allowing the successful delivery. “This was a complex piece of work with the purpose of securing the water supply for Kilkenny City in the short to medium term.  The undertaking required clear communications with the public by Irish Water in partnership with Kilkenny County Council.  We would like to join in thanking the people of the City for their patience during the works of which the benefits will be seen for many years."

Kilkenny

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