Securing the drinking water for over 200,000 people

Today, Irish Water hosted an event to turn the sod on the construction of a new pipeline from Vartry Water Treatment Plant to Callowhill. Ervia Chairman, Tony Keohane, Ervia CEO, Mike Quinn and Irish Water Managing Director, Jerry Grant were joined by Minister of State for Food, Forestry & Horticulture Representing Wicklow and East Carlow Andrew Doyle and Cathaoirleach of Wicklow Municipal District, Cllr. Shay Cullen to officially turn the sod. Irish Water is investing €29 million in the Vartry Callowhill Link.

Planning Permission for the Link was granted in February 2017, and following a competitive procurement process the construction contract was awarded to Roadbridge.  Elected representatives from Wicklow, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown and Dublin City, employees from the three Local Authorities and community members were also present at the event.

Scheme was originally constructed in the 1860s

The Vartry Water Supply Scheme was originally constructed in the 1860s and was a feat of engineering for its time. The scheme included a four kilometre long tunnel under Callowhill to deliver water to north Wicklow and south Dublin.

The scheme was advocated by physician and politician Sir John Gray and developed by Dublin Corporation to provide a safe and reliable water supply to the region and helped to reduce outbreaks of water borne disease.  The scheme includes two reservoirs on the Vartry (upper and lower), a water treatment plant comprising primarily of slow sand filters, 40km of trunk mains that deliver water to open storage reservoirs at Stillorgan in Dublin.

The tunnel is now in a poor state of repair and is being replaced by the new pipeline which will secure and safeguard the water supply for the communities it serves which is one of the most densely populated areas in the country. The project to construct a new water pipeline and additional structures for the transfer of treated drinking water from Vartry to Callowhill serves more than 200,000 people. In February 2017, Wicklow County Council granted planning permission for the construction of the new water pipeline and additional structures.  The proposed works will include a new pumping station at the existing Vartry Water Treatment Plant and four kilometres of buried pipeline from Vartry to Callowhill and a break pressure tank at Callowhill.

The importance of a single public utility

Attending the event, the Minister of State for Food, Forestry & Horticulture Representing Wicklow and East Carlow Andrew Doyle said “The coming together of Wicklow County Council, Dublin City Council and Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council at this event today highlights the importance of a single public utility to manage our water services. Having a strategic view of the requirements and investment that will allow growth of homes and businesses is vital to our social and economic success. The vision that built Vartry 150 years ago is echoed now as we continue to invest in the future.”

Shay Cullen, Cathaoirleach of Wicklow Municipal District commented “ This is a great project for the district and as a local of Roundwood as well as Cathaoirleach of the Wicklow Municipal District. I am delighted to be associated with this important day with the commencement of the replacement of this vital piece of infrastructure. This is a milestone in the life of the Vartry Water Supply whereby this tunnel replacement will help secure the water supply for north Wicklow and south Dublin.”

Commenting on the project, Mike Quinn, CEO at Ervia said “Ireland's water and wastewater infrastructure is in need of major investment due to decades of under investment. The Vartry to Callowhill tunnel is 150 years old which highlights not only the urgent need to upgrade this critical infrastructure but the size and scale of the challenge faced by Irish Water.”

Safeguarding human health while supporting economic growth

“Irish Water is focused on investing in strategic water and wastewater projects to protect and safeguard human health and to support the economic growth of the country. We have a clear, comprehensive and strategic approach to addressing the lack of investment that is needed and we are prioritising our investments on the most urgent projects. The replacement of this vital piece of water infrastructure is a priority project for Ervia and Irish Water given its importance in securing safe, reliable drinking water to so many people in north Wicklow, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown and into Dublin city. This significant project will build on the legacy of the scheme constructed in the 1860s bringing it up to the standard required for the 21st century.”

Jerry Grant, Managing Director at Irish Water, added at the event “We are delighted to mark the official turning of the sod to replace this critical tunnel which will secure safe treated drinking water to the homes, schools and workplaces of more than 200,000 people in north Wicklow and south Dublin. The construction of the new pipeline is part of a €200m investment in the scheme which will secure the drinking water supply for the area for decades to come. Upgrades to the Vartry Water Treatment Plant and the new covered storage reservoir at the existing Stillorgan Reservoir site are included in the Vartry Water Supply Upgrade Project."

Full planning permission has been granted for these vital projects and both projects will be commencing in the coming months. Once completed, the upgrades to the pipeline and water treatment plant will ensure that current drinking water standards are complied with, giving the people of north Wicklow and south Dublin, and will facilitate removal of the scheme from the Remedial Action List (RAL) maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

For more information, visit our Vartry Water Supply Scheme project page.

Dublin, Wicklow

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