Works continue to reduce leakage in Arklow

04 October 2021

Nestled in the heart of the Garden County, Arklow is a bustling commuter town with a population of over 13,000 people. Safeguarding the water supply in Arklow is an important focus for Uisce Éireann. Since the beginning of 2020, Uisce Éireann in partnership with Wicklow County Council and supported by regional contractors Ward and Burke Ltd, has completed a substantial amount of work in the town to drive down leakage and provide a more secure and reliable water supply for businesses and residents.

The works included significant network improvements across Arklow including the installation of 1.5km of new water mains and almost 100 leaks detected and repaired through Uisce Éireann’s Find and Fix programme, resulting in improved water quality and supply. The works also involved the replacement of almost 80 backyard service connections which are found in older premises, often installed to the rear of a property and typically made of iron or lead. Due to the age and the poor condition of the pipework, they were a significant source of leakage and supply disruption for customers. Backyard services are usually shared, running through a number of neighbouring properties making it difficult to detect and repair leaks. Since all properties share a connection, leaks and bursts affect all properties, usually resulting in low pressure. Uisce Éireann would like to thank all those who facilitated and assisted in the provision of our back yard services programme which has not only reduced the number of bursts and outages, but has also considerably improved the water quality for entire communities.

The works also included the installation of new valves to manage pressure as well as optimising existing valves which will have substantial operational benefits and will generate more stable network pressures. These improvement works in turn will reduce stresses on the water network, reduce the number of bursts, and improve water quality.

Speaking about the works, Joe Carroll, Leakage Reduction Programme Regional Lead with Uisce Éireann said: “The size and scale of the leakage challenge nationally is well documented. Reducing leakage is not only about replacing old pipes or fixing bursts, it involves detailed planning, collaboration and a number of different work streams which will make the most impact on leakage levels in a given area. These included water mains rehabilitation, back yard service replacement, leak detection and repair, and pressure management works which will have a significant long-term impact on the levels of leakage being recorded in the drinking water network and will safeguard the water supply in Arklow now and into the future.

The works have delivered extensive cost savings by providing improved water network operation that will require less maintenance in the future and by Spring 2021 had already enabled a reduction in plant production at Arklow Water Treatment Plant by 700,000 litres of water per day. This means 20% less drinking water now needs to be treated and distributed due to these Leakage Reduction Programme works. Additionally, significant environmental benefits have been achieved due to the reduction of raw water intake serving the water treatment plant.

Speaking on this, Gerard Brady, DBO Engineer with Uisce Éireann, added: “As part of the management and monitoring of the Arklow Water Treatment Plant, Uisce Éireann has been able to record and quantify reduced demand at the water treatment plant. This reduced demand will result in long term benefits and efficiencies in the operation of the treatment plant and network

Uisce Éireann acknowledges the co-operation and patience of local residents and businesses while we worked to complete these essential works to safeguard the water supply for Arklow now and into the future.

Uisce Éireann continues to work in partnership with local authorities across Ireland to reduce leaks every day. As part of Uisce Éireann’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 which is vital for our health, our environment and our growing population and economy. For more information, please visit the National Leakage Reduction Programme section of our website. 

Uisce Éireann 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. Uisce Éireann would like to remind people to follow the HSE COVID-19 advice and ensure frequent handwashing.