Enough water to supply six Donegal villages saved after underground leak repaired

14 September 2021

More good news for Donegal as Irish Water, working in partnership with Donegal County Council, has saved in excess of 500,000 litres of water per day following a major leakage investigation and repair in Buncrana. The works will provide a more secure and reliable water supply for the town and surrounding areas.

Repair of the significant leak on the Buncrana to Slab road has saved enough clean drinking water to supply almost 3,900 people or the population equivalent of Manorcunningham, Newtowncunningham, Burnfoot, Fahan, Saint Johnston and Killea for a day.

Irish Water and Donegal County Council recognised that the water supply in Buncrana, the second most populated town in Donegal, was subject to a high level of leakage but there was a challenge in locating the water loss due to the limited information on the underground public network.

An extensive review of the network was carried out and, following the installation of a new public meter, crews were able to locate the leak and plan the repair.

The works involved the installation of a bulk meter, which gathers information about water usage and flow, on the Buncrana trunk main. The meter enabled crews to locate the underground leak on the public supply, which serves a large geographical area from Buncrana to Muff and Saint Johnson to Manorcunningham.

Irish Water and Donegal County Council worked together to ensure the successful completion of the project and invaluable local knowledge, coupled with the fact that works took place overnight on 20 July 2021, helped minimise disruption to the local community.

Speaking about the success of the repair, Declan Cawley, Networks Regional Lead with Irish Water, said, “It is difficult to comprehend that over 500,000 litres of clean drinking water was being lost underground, every day. No water was surfacing on the ground, so the data was imperative for us to locate this leak. Water is a valuable resource and expensive to produce so finding this massive leak and successfully repairing it was of paramount importance. 

In 2018 the rate of leakage nationally was 46%, by the end of 2020 it was 40% and we are currently on course to achieve a national leakage rate of 38% by the end of 2021. We would like to thank the communities, businesses, homeowners and commuters for their patience and cooperation as we continue to deliver vital network improvement works across the county helping safeguard the water supply in Donegal.

Speaking about the project Margaret Doherty, Executive Engineer for Water Conservation and Find and Fix Project with Donegal County Council commented, “As a result of the collaboration between Donegal County Council and Irish Water, customers are enjoying a more secure and reliable water supply. 

We were aware there was an underground leak on the public network, but we didn’t know its exact location so we had to improve the infrastructure on the public network to direct us to the precise location of the leak.

It took a lot of investigation and planning to repair the leak. We were losing valuable clean drinking water underground and water is precious, so to have fixed the leak and improved the network is a huge win.

Securing the water supply in Donegal in the long term remains a vital focus and Donegal County Council and Irish Water are continuing with efforts to further drive down leakage in the area, which will meet the demands for the county into the future.

Irish Water continues to work in partnership with local authorities across Ireland every day to reduce leaks. As part of Irish Water’s National Leakage Reduction Programme, €500 million is being invested up to the end of 2021 to reduce the level of leakage across the country by fixing and replacing old and damaged water mains. This will ensure a safe, reliable water supply with is vital for our health, our environment and our growing population and economy.

Irish Water continues to work with our Local Authority partners, contractors and others to safeguard the health and well-being of both staff and the public and to ensure the continuity of critical drinking water and wastewater services. Irish Water would like to remind people to follow the HSE COVID-19 advice and ensure frequent handwashing.

For more information, please visit our National Leakage Reduction Programme project page.