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Backyard Water Service Replacement Programme - Wicklow

Leakage Reduction Programme - December 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 more secure, reliable and sustainable water supply to Irish homes and businesses. This programme of works across Wicklow is one example of how we are strategically working to reduce leakage every day.

Improving water quality and supply in the Garden County

Providing a secure and reliable water supply across Wicklow is a focal point for Uisce Éireann. Working in partnership with Wicklow County Council and local communities, we are sending to the history books aged water pipes located in the back gardens or yards of homes through our Backyard Water Service Replacement Programme. Since 2018 this programme alone has seen 903 individual homes receive brand new free water connections, in turn achieving considerable water savings of over 1 million litres of water a day across the county.


What are Backyard water services?

In some older properties water connections were installed to the rear of the property, commonly referred to as backyard water service connections. The pipework in these connections is typically made of iron or lead and due to their age and deteriorating condition, these services are a significant source of leakage and reduced levels of service. Lead in drinking water is now a recognised health concern. Replacing these old services means a safer water supply for each and every home.

Backyard water service connections are usually shared, running through several neighbouring properties, making it difficult to detect and repair leaks. Since all properties share a connection, any leaks and bursts may impact all homes sharing the connection and usually results in lower water pressure. It also means that one household's supply can't be turned off without their neighbours' supply also being turned off. As part of backyard water service replacement, we're installing a new modern individual service connection from the front of each home directly to the public watermain as shown in blue in the image below.

Cartoon drawing showing four white houses with gardens by a road

“Each year millions of litres of clean drinking water are lost due to old and damaged pipes throughout the network. The only solution in many cases is to replace the pipes entirely. In communities served by aged backyard services, it can be extremely difficult to detect and repair leaks when the issue is on private property and there are neighbouring properties involved. These issues coupled with historic challenges whereby unknowingly homeowners have built extensions or patios over water services can lead to more complex repairs. That is why the backyard service replacement programme provides the solution to upgrading the network and largely eliminating the problems experienced such as frequent bursts and low water pressure for these communities. In addition, improving the water quality is another bonus.”

Noel Doody, Water Inspector, Wicklow County Council

Wicklow communities get behind reducing leaks

The success of any Backyard Water Service replacement project is entirely dependent on everyone in the community getting involved. New individual services to each home are a mini project of their own. Because of this we must engage directly with every single homeowner to ensure they understand what's involved and the related benefits to them and their neighbours. It really is an all-in to win programme. 

People are becoming much more aware of the issues associated to wasting water to leakage. However, where homes have been impacted by low water pressure, bursts, or poor quality then it makes it much easier for people to understand the challenges first-hand. Completion of these projects provide long-lasting solutions to ongoing local issues so engagement with the community is key.

Saying goodbye to Backyard Water Services across Wicklow

Since 2018, there have been 19 schemes completed across Wicklow providing 903 homes with new individual water services and almost 17 kilometres of new water mains installed.

“Aged backyard service connections are a huge source of leakage and continue to impact communities right across Ireland, causing low pressure, supply disruption and issues relating to water quality. Replacing these old water mains and service connections in poor condition will eliminate existing leaks and significantly reduce the amount of clean drinking water lost into the ground. It is vital to future proof water supplies and provide resilient networks across Wicklow.”

“The successful completion of these strategic projects has resulted in over 1 million litres of water saved per day and over 900 households receiving a new more reliable and secure water supply. The amount of water saved through this programme over the past 5 years equates to the water required to supply over 8,000 people which is the combined daily usage of the communities of both Blessington & Baltinglass.”

“Without the support of local communities getting behind these projects the investment would be meaningless. We would like to thank each and every homeowner who has engaged with us over the past number of years to reap this success and look forward to continuing to work on replacing back yard services into the future to provide a more secure and sustainable water supply across Wicklow”

Joe Carroll, Regional Delivery Lead, Uisce Éireann


Water Conservation

1,000,000 litres of treated drinking water per day has been saved in Wicklow


Improved Water Pressure

New water service connections providing improved service


Operational Benefits

Ease of access to maintain or repair in future


Improving Water Quality

Removal of aged cast iron and lead service pipes providing a safer water supply