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Cork City

Leakage Reduction Programme | August 2023

Much of Ireland's water is lost to leaks before it reaches our taps

Uisce Éireann's national Leakage Reduction Programme is fixing leaks and replacing pipes around the country to provide a safer more sustainable water supply. This programme of works across Cork City is one example of how we are working with our partners to reduce leakage every day, enabling communities to thrive. 

We're committed through ongoing investment to upgrade and maintain the cities water infrastructure, providing a more reliable, secure and robust supply of drinking water to homes and businesses.


Future proofing the cities water network to conserve a valuable resource

Cork, a merchant city bustling with a hive of culture, sits proudly on an island in the middle of the River Lee. One of Irelands largest cities and home to over 200,000 people, it knows the value of water, with homes and businesses turning on taps every single day of the year to drink, cook and clean. It is without doubt an integral part of everyday life. 

Uisce Éireann in partnership with Cork City Council continues to improve the water network, with generational upgrade works underway across the city. During the Leakage Reduction Programme, over 17 million litres of water, is now being saved every day across the city as a result of these upgrade works, representing a 50% reduction in leakage. This is the equivalent of over 4 times the daily household water usage of Cobh.

A bridge over a river in a city

“As part of the national Leakage Reduction Programme Cork City has enjoyed millions of euro worth of investment to secure and develop water services which are the back bone of a thriving economy. Despite the challenges faced with fragile infrastructure and aged systems we are making significant progress in driving leakage down with a 50% reduction in leakage across the city. As a result, communities will benefit from a more robust and reliable water supply. The wealth of experience of personnel on the ground is fundamental in driving the programme forward and achieving these results and water savings across the city. Uisce Éireann acknowledges the co-operation and patience of local residents and businesses while we worked to complete these works and we are grateful for their support in helping us while we continue to deliver improvements for Cork City for the benefit of current and future generations.”

Paul Gray - Uisce Éireann Senior Portfolio Manager Leakage Reduction Programme

Uisce Éireann worker in helmet, hi-vis jacket and protective glasses

An aged network with complex challenges

It is a complex process to turn the water from our rivers, lakes and groundwater into clean drinking water and deliver it safely to each customer's tap. Water flows through 600km of watermains across Cork City, enough pipeline to bring you from Douglas to the Giants Causeway. It is easy to understand that the daily management of such a system is a demanding task.

Unfortunately, a lot of clean drinking water is lost through leakage as the city continues to rely heavily on 100 year old systems which are no longer fit for purpose.  One of our biggest challenges is to improve our services to meet the needs of our customers and bring the current network into the 21st century while striving to limiting the impact of works on local communities.

The scale of this challenge is momentous due to the vast and complex network of pipes below the ground, but with huge technological advancements in recent years along with the ability to gather watermain performance data, we are making great strides in tackling leakage.

“People often underestimate the complexity of fixing leaks. The size and scale of the network issues in Cork City are immense and well documented, causing ongoing issues to water supply. These are complex projects that involve working around several underground services such as gas, telecoms and electricity. As a result of the close collaboration between Cork City Council and Uisce Éireann homes and businesses are enjoying a more secure and reliable water supply. The works undertaken through the national Leakage Reduction Programme will benefit customers by strengthening and reinforcing the water network, reducing leaks and unplanned interruptions.”

Brian McCarthy - Cork City Council Senior Resident Engineer Water Services

Worker in white helmet in front of train tracks and a town with a river

Ensuring a thriving water supply for the merchant city

Following an extensive review of the water network, we have developed a long-term strategic plan to reduce leakage, improve water quality and provide a more secure and reliable water supply for homes and businesses across Cork City. 

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 have the greatest impact on leakage levels in a given area.

Leakage reduction works in Cork City included the installation of pressure management  valves which help regulate water pressure on the network by maintaining even flows. In addition, leaks were repaired through our Find and Fix Scheme, households across Cork City had their properties external pipe repaired free of charge via the First Fix Free Scheme alongside a number of public lead services replaced.  Removing existing lead services from the public water network is imperative and by replacing them with new pipes will help to improve water quality and reduce the risk of contamination. Homeowners can play their part to remove lead pipes from private property and are supported through a government lead grant scheme.

Uisce Éireann worker fixing pipes in the ground


17 million litres of water

is now being saved every day across the city, representing a 50% reduction in leakage


40 pressure management

valves installed


1220 leaks repaired

through our Find and Fix Scheme


747 external household

leaks repaired through our First Fix Scheme


2720 public lead services

have been replaced



of aged problematic water mains have been replaced