Irish Water to replace supply pipe network on Cape Clear

A multi-million euro plan which includes replacing the water pipe network on an island hit by water shortages last year has been unveiled.

Irish Water and Cork County Council met residents of Cape Clear, off Cork, yesterday to brief them on the estimated €5m investment in a new water supply network, a new water treatment plant and increased reservoir storage facilities.

The company also announced immediate measures to improve water supply from the existing network in a bid to prevent a repeat of last summer’s chronic water shortages.

This includes the recent completion of a new water supply borehole which will improve supply to the island’s reservoir, which ran dry last summer.

The island has been plagued with water supply issues for decades, exacerbated in summer months when the Gaeltacht island’s population swells. Water restrictions have become a way of life during the summer months.

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But poor infrastructure and lengthy dry spells combined last summer to make it the worst in living memory. It was the first time islanders said they had no water to ration. Water tankers were shipped to the island, with some deliveries hampered by bad weather.

“This is an unacceptable situation for our customers,” Irish Water’s Water Distribution Networks’s Ian O’Mahony, said at a briefing on the island yesterday where he announced details of a major two-phased investment plan to address the problems.

“We are proposing to deliver a new water supply network and water treatment plant, with increased storage capacity to ensure there is adequate water supply on Cape Clear in the longer term,” he said.

The company plans to replace the island’s entire 11.5km watermain distribution network to reduce high leakage levels and the frequency of burst, in a bid to reduce the demand on the existing water storage reservoirs.

Reduced demand will place less pressure on the existing supply and limit the potential for water outages, Mr O’Mahony said.

Detailed site investigation works were completed over the last year, and tendering for this construction contract will begin later this year, with construction due to start before next March, taking about a year to complete.

The company has also started work on a second major project to identify a new drinking water source and to construct a new water treatment plant on the island.

This tendering process will start in mid-2016 with surveys and assessments required to complete the detailed design of the water treatment plant, and to allow for the completion of statutory requirements, such as planning application and environmental assessments.

This project will include an upgrade of the existing reservoir site to increase water storage capacity, which will cater for the busy summer tourist season. A new rising main to the existing reservoir will also be completed. It is hoped that construction will start in late 2016 and take about 12 months.

Irish Water said it is hoping to address similar water- supply problems on the Aran Islands in due course.

Meanwhile, President Michael D Higgins and his wife, Sabina, are due to visit Cape Clear next Wednesday.

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