Over 30 million litres of water saved following intensive campaign to reduce leakage in Limerick

12 January 2022

Irish Water’s National Leakage Reduction Programme is fixing leaks and replacing pipes around the country to provide a safer more reliable water supply, and Limerick is a prime example of what can be achieved. Since 2018, a proactive approach was taken to reducing the loss of our most precious resource, resulting in saving 33 million litres of water in Limerick City and County; that’s enough to fill over 13 Olympic size swimming pools.

Irish Water, together with Limerick City and County Council and our delivery partner Shareridge, is delivering water network improvements through the National Leakage Reduction Programme. An extensive review of the water network in Limerick was conducted resulting in a strategic plan to reduce leakage and provide a more reliable supply. Several significant challenges were identified including the condition of the city’s old and fragile watermains, which are prone to frequent bursts, as well as much needed improvements to the network and construction of some critical water infrastructure across the county. Since 2018, almost 22km of watermains have been replaced through rehabilitation/replacement projects.

Speaking on the success of the Leakage Reduction Programme to date,  Gerry O’Donnell from Irish Water said: “Reducing leakage is not only about replacing old pipes or fixing bursts, but it also involves detailed planning, collaboration and the co-ordination of several different workstreams in order to make the most impact on leakage levels in a given area. Finding underground leaks is difficult.  This is why we continually focus a lot of effort on improving the systems to measure the flow of water in a given area. This helps us to better understand where the worst leaks are and then direct leak detection, repair and rehabilitation/replacement crews to those areas. 

In Limerick, we continue to deliver a programme of works that are collectively driving leakage down. That not only involves fixing and replacing watermains, but also replacing old backyard watermains and lead services. We also fix leaks on customers properties under the ‘First Fix Free’ scheme. 

"What we are doing in collaboration with Limerick City and County Council, our delivery partner and local communities is absolutely having a positive effect with 33 million litres of water saved since 2018.

Replacing even short sections of problematic watermains can be very disruptive within a local community due to traffic management and interruptions to the water supply. I want to thank everyone throughout Limerick City and County for their patience and support over the last number of years as we continue improving water quality, reducing leakage and providing a more reliable water supply for everyone.

Providing a reliable water supply for all customers is of critical importance. With the increased focus on public health, this was even more pronounced. The watermains on St. Nessans Road is the primary water supply for University Hospital Limerick. This watermain was old and had a history of bursts which impacted the hospital and wider community. It was therefore strategically targeted for replacement. The successful completion of this project ensures a more reliable supply of water for critical users now and into the future.

John Heelan, Mechanical Services Officer at University Hospital Limerick explains, “A reliable water supply is critical to the hospitals day to day operation. Water is necessary 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The water main supplying the hospital was problematic as it burst frequently and left the hospital without a fresh supply of water. The staff at UHL are going above and beyond the call of duty during these challenging times, and to have a safe and reliable water supply now means one less worry as they care for their patients. The works that Irish Water have carried out will benefit the county of Limerick for years to come”.

Irish Water acknowledges the co-operation and patience of local residents and businesses while we worked to complete these projects and would also like to thank local representatives and the media for their support in helping us share these necessary updates.

Securing the water supply in Limerick in the long term remains a vital focus and Irish Water is continuing with efforts to further drive down leakage. 

Irish Water has invested over €500 million between 2017 and the end of 2021 to reduce leakage and replace old pipes on the public water network. Fixing leaks can be complicated but we are making progress. In 2018 the rate of leakage nationally was 46%, by the end of 2021 it was reduced to 38%.

The full Limerick Leakage Reduction Programme case study can be found here.