Leakage Reduction Programme | June 2022

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 across the country to provide a safer more reliable water supply to Irish homes and businesses. This programme of works across Kerry is one example of how we are strategically working to reduce leakage every day.

Managing a vast and complex water network across the Kingdom

With almost 3000km of water network across County Kerry, which is enough pipes to go around the entire coastline of Ireland, it is easy to understand the complexity of managing the underground system from day to day. This vast network across one of Irelands’ largest counties is made up of:

Large trunk water mains which carry water from where it is treated to towns and villages

A complex dense network of underground pipes to supply homes and businesses in towns

Long lengths of water mains necessary to provide supply in rural areas along the coast.

This underground network coupled with individual service pipes to every property, multiple pumping stations, valves and meters make up the system that ensures water reaches the taps of Kerry homes and businesses every day.

Reducing leakage across the Kingdom

Working in partnership, Uisce Éireann and Kerry County Council identified the key issues impacting the water network and developed plans to reduce leakage and provide a more reliable water supply.

Since the outset of the Leakage Reduction Programme in 2018, largescale improvements have been made in the technology used to monitor what happens in this vast and complex underground network. Advancements have greatly improved the availability of accurate and real time information which has been a critical step in targeting where investment to replace pipes and repair leaks has been focused. 

Almost 230km of water mains have been replaced in Kerry through planned improvement projects. That’s enough pipes to go from Cahersiveen to Tarbert and back! Other leakage reduction works which include ‘Find and Fix’ of leaks, Operational Leakage Management, ‘First Fix for Free’, and management of water network pressures have collectively contributed to impressive savings being recorded across the county. 

Over 20 million litres of water have now been saved which is the equivalent of over 6 times the daily household water usage in Tralee. 

Using live data to tackle areas of high leakage

Repairing bursts on the water network is disruptive but they can be easier to find as the water surfaces above ground. Leaks are a greater challenge as they are underground and therefore not visible. Quality information about water usage and flow is critical to understanding where underground leaks may be. A District Meter Area improvement programme was prioritised across the county seeing installation of new meters and loggers on the public water network, and the repair and replacement of existing meters to improve live data being transmitted to our Leakage Management System for real time monitoring. Although there is more work to do, these upgrades facilitated a better understanding of both water usage and flow in these areas, directing Find and Fix and Water Conservation crews swiftly to where they were needed most. Through these data improvements almost 900 major leaks have been repaired.

Major investment to resolve a major problem

Providing a safe and reliable water supply to all homes and businesses across Kerry is of critical importance. Tourism is a key driver of employment with water being a vital resource to ensure its continued growth and success.  The trunk water main at Farranfore, which transports drinking water from Lough Guitane to Tralee and Castleisland, has created many challenges for local communities as a result of frequent bursts. The impact was last felt in July 2021 when a major burst affected over 50,000 people. Commencing in August 2021, improvement works to replace the most problematic section of pipe were undertaken outside of peak hours to reduce the impact on this critical traffic corridor. Works have continued to include further sections at Ash Hill and Moriarty’s Cross totalling almost 9km. The successful completion of this project in Summer 2022 will ensure a more reliable and sustainable supply of water for homes and businesses in Tralee, Castleisland and the surrounding hinterland well into the future.

In Beaufort, on the road to some of Kerry’s most well-known beauty spots, the Gap of Dunloe and Carrountoohil, Kerry County Council continue improvement works on another critical but historically problematic water main. Frequent bursts have been experienced on the Board of Works Road where a critical trunk water main supplying many customers in the Beaufort, Faha, Killorglin and Milltown regions is located. A total of 7.3km of new water mains are soon to be complete on this vital area of the water network.

“All across the County Uisce Éireann and Kerry County Council have worked in close collaboration over the past number of years to reduce leakage levels, with great success. There have been significant obstacles to overcome with some of the dated and fragile infrastructure and aged monitoring equipment to measure flows, to name a few. Identifying priority locations for investment has meant that the associated improvement works are proving critical in resolving major disruption being faced by homes and businesses in certain parts of the kingdom. Every day, the lives of people across the county are being improved by our collaborative efforts to provide a safer and more reliable water supply. The water main replacement works alone across Kerry are being delivered on an unprecedented scale. The works can be disruptive in the short term, but we are seeing many positive results of which the people of Kerry will benefit from now and into the future.“

Paul Neary – Senior Engineer in Water Services at Kerry County Council

Managing pressure to reduce leaks

High pressure is used in the water network to move water uphill, around bends and directly to taps in our homes and businesses. The topography of the County combined with a vast network means supplying water under pressure is critical. However, this pressure can cause leaks on ageing pipes, fittings and outlets leading to loss of valuable water and disruption to customers. Managing pressure in the water network helps reduce surges and maintain even flows. Across Kerry new valves have been installed in many locations to manage water pressure on the network including Ballybunion, Rathmore, Farranfore and Lixnaw.


“Uisce Éireann and Kerry County Council have made great strides in reducing leakage across Kerry. We use improved data to strategically target leakage across the county and have tackled a number of major water mains also. In Tralee alone, leakage rates have almost halved from 13 million litres of water per day to a current rate of 6.5 million litres of water per day. Its super progress but we’re not finished there! Together we continue to look at ways to supply smarter and reduce leakage across the county. We would like to again thank the local communities where we work for their continued patience and cooperation to deliver these conservation efforts for everyone’s benefit.“

Paul Moroney Uisce Éireann Programme Manager - Leakage Reduction Programme

230km of new watermains installed and in construction

240 district meter loggers on public water network installed, repaired, or replaced

900 leaks repaired through Find and Fix scheme

465 leaks repaired through First Fix Scheme

665 connections replaced or in progress as part of Backyard Services Scheme