Works continue to drive down leakage across Wicklow

30 March 2022

Known as the Garden of Ireland and situated on Dublin's doorstep, Wicklow is home to many bustling commuter towns and boasts a thriving hospitality and tourism industry. Safeguarding the water supply for these communities across Wicklow continues to be an important focus for Irish Water who, in partnership with Wicklow County Council, have been working hard to deliver a strategic plan to reduce leakage across the county since 2018. In 2021, as part of the national Leakage Reduction Programme, intensive efforts were made which resulted in savings of over 5 million litres of water every day. That’s enough clean drinking water to supply almost 15,000 homes for one day.

Over half of these water savings achieved last year were as a result of active leak detection and repair works, known as the Find and Fix scheme. Visible bursts on the pipes are easy to find and fix, but hidden, underground leaks are a bigger challenge and therefore, a considerable focus was placed on improving systems to measure the water flow and usage, to better understand where the worst underground leaks were located, and direct crews to those areas. As a result of this scheme, almost 300 major underground leaks were repaired amounting to savings of over 2.6 million litres of water every day.

Another important part of the programme was the replacement of over 500 backyard service connections. Backyard services are found in older premises, often installed to the rear of a property and typically made of cast iron or lead. Due to the age and the poor condition of the pipework, they are a significant source of leakage and supply disruption for customers. Irish Water would like to thank all those who facilitated and assisted in the provision of this programme which has not only reduced the number of bursts and outages impacting customers, but has also considerably improved the water quality for entire communities throughout Scotts Park, Charnwood, Edward Road, Fr Colahan Terrace, Dwyer Park, Ballywaltrim Cottages, Friarshill, Rocky Road, Palermo and Avondale Park in Bray, and Trafalgar Road in Greystones. In addition to this, Irish Water also replaced a further 7.5km of aged and problematic water mains as well as controlling and managing pressure on the network more effectively, which will benefit customers in these areas for years to come.

The people of Wicklow really got behind conserving water last year with over 1 million litres saved through Irish Water’s First Fix Free Scheme. The First Fix Free scheme aims to help reduce the amount of water wasted through leaks on a customer’s property where a water meter shows a constant flow of water. If Irish Water has contacted you about a suspected leak on your external water supply pipe, please get in touch. For more information, visit the First Fix Free section of our website.

Speaking about the success of the works, Joe Carroll, Leakage Reduction Programme Regional Lead with Irish Water, said, “The hard work across Wicklow is paying off. People often think that the solution to our leakage problem in this Country is to replace all the pipes. The rate at which we could do that would mean sprinting to a standstill given the age & condition of our current underground infrastructure. We have had to take a much more aggressive approach to deal with leakage head on. In Wicklow we continue to deliver a programme of works that collectively drives down leakage, this involves detailed planning and close collaboration with Wicklow County Council and our contractor Ward and Burke Construction Ltd. This work has resulted in local communities enjoying long-term benefits regarding water quality and supply.’’

Though the journey continues, this is a fantastic achievement and I would like to thank the people of Wicklow for engaging with us, supporting our vision and helping us achieve these results.

John Bowes, Senior Engineer with Wicklow County Council, added: “As a result of the collaboration between Wicklow County Council and Irish Water, customers across the county are enjoying a more secure and reliable water supply. The works undertaken through the Leakage Reduction Programme will benefit customers by strengthening and reinforcing the water network, reducing leaks and unplanned outages. On behalf of Wicklow County Council, I would like thank these communities for their continued patience as we deliver this important work to provide a better water supply.

President of Bray and District Chamber of Commerce, Sarah Finnegan, welcomed the improvements for the business community further adding, “A reliable, secure water supply is an integral factor for local business, particularly for our multinationals and hospitality sectors. As Bray continues to develop, local economic growth will be underpinned by the work already undertaken and by the work that is currently underway. It is important that the capital expenditure planned for Bray and other towns across Wicklow continues to be implemented effectively in order to ensure the long-term delivery of an efficient and clean water supply in the community and for businesses and we welcome the continued development of this key part of infrastructure by Irish Water".

Irish Water continues to work in partnership with local authorities across Ireland to reduce leaks every day. 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%.  We are on track to achieve a national leakage rate of 32% by the end of 2024. For more information, please visit the National Leakage Reduction Programme section of our website.

Irish Water 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.