€9 million plug in Laois’ missing water supply

One third of Laois’ drinking water is going astray in the public network but Laois County Council is set to spend more than €9 million to plug the lost costly supply.

One third of Laois’ drinking water is going astray in the public network but Laois County Council is set to spend more than €9 million to plug the lost costly supply.

Over the next two years County hall is set to invest in a major network upgrade to put an end to old leaky systems and unauthorised or unmetered water use. A contract worth €300,000 has already been signed to help find water use wastage.

The Laois Water Conservation Project has been established to monitor and upgrade defective networks, and encourage water conservation. This week the first step is being taken, as a monitoring system to measure flow and pressure of the public supply is installed at 109 locations through Laois.

The council are keen to stress that the scheme is not a forerunner to domestic metering, yet to be implemented.

“It is most important that the public are convinced that these works have absolutely no relation to the National Domestic Metering Programme,” said Michael O’Hora, Director of Services.

A private contract has been awarded for the monitoring system to EMR Integrated Solutions, at a cost of €289,000 paid by the Dept of the Environment, with installation to be complete by mid-October.

“This will allow the Council to monitor water distribution and consumption remotely with real-time information on leakage throughout the networks thus allowing early detection of leaks and mains bursts, enabling prompt repairs,” said Seamus Quinn, the council’s water services engineer.

A leakage control team will then find and fix leaks. Defective networks will be replaced if repairs are uneconomical. It costs the council 96 cent to produce 1,000 litres or one cubic metre of drinking water, factoring in maintenance and unaccounted for water. Businesses are charged that figure for the water they use.

Early next year work will begin replacing 12 km of watermains in Portlaoise, Mountmellick, Ballyroan and Luggacurran, identified as most urgent. This is expected to take six months to complete at a cost of €2.3 million. Further mains replacements will be made in 2013, to a total cost of €9 million.

Mr Quinn says conserving drinking water will improve water quality.

“Unaccounted for water is not the same as leaking water, there are other factors such as unauthorised use, unmetered connections and metering calibrations. Reducing it will mitigate demand on raw water resources and improve service delivery and water quality to consumers. The estimated unaccounted for water for Laois is 34 per cent.

“Water conservation is thus key to the sustainable use of our water resources,” he said.

A Public Awareness Campaign will provide businesses and the public with up to date information on any disruption to supply during the works.

For further information see the Water Services Department page on the council’s website, www.laois.ie