Irish Water to spend €1.7bn on infrastructure projects

State utility will concentrate funding on sewerage problems up to end of 2016

Irish Water plans to spend €1.77 billion on 386 infrastructure projects over the next

2½ years, more than 40 per cent of which will be used to fix national sewage problems.

The State utility has published its first capital investment plan for 2014-2016 detailing which water projects, previously undertaken by individual local authorities, will go ahead over the next two years.

Certain projects, such as the plan to build a 9km pipeline from the Ringsend sewage plant under Dublin Bay, will not go ahead, it said, but the plant will be expanded and upgraded. It plans to provide more drinking water to the capital and reduce disruption to supply by investing in the completion of the work to existing treatment plants at Ballymore Eustace and Leixlip.

'Boil water' notices
It aims to lift the majority of all long-term "boil water" notices in Roscommon early next year. Critical water quality projects in Letterkenny Co Donegal, Kerry central and Burncourt/Fethard in Co Tipperary will also go ahead.


Irish Water said it has “reprioritised” the infrastructure programmes of the 34 city and county councils and will be focusing funding on areas were there are “major compliance issues” which must be addressed to ensure public health and to bring Ireland into line with EU law.

Projects which had been designed for significant population growth will be deferred and the company will only be building capacity for the next seven to 10 years. Ireland is facing legal action for breaching the EU urban wastewater treatment directive at 66 locations in the State. The planned investment will not be enough to bring the State into compliance with its statutory obligations. The likely total cost of the measures needed would be €3 billion-€4 billion with a further €2 billion-€3 billion needed to meet “emerging requirements”, Irish Water said.

The capital programme will focus on “urgent schemes” where “pollution impacts are most evident”, it said. Just over €746 million will be spent on sewage schemes, in building new facilities and expanding and upgrading existing works.

At the time of the handover 54 "wastewater compliance" schemes were under construction around the State, Irish Water said it will complete these schemes.

Planning and design
A further 53 projects were at the planning and design stage. The company said it intends to go ahead with construction, but will be reviewing their "scope" and budgets and may defer certain elements. However, in relation to 126 projects it will be reviewing the "business case" and does not intend to construct the facilities during the current capital programme. The programme also sets aside just over €482 million for drinking water projects. The largest share, €193 million, will go on water quality schemes, while €137 million will be spent on increasing the availability of drinking water and €152 million will go on fixing leaks. A separate budget of €51 million is being spent on fixing leaks which are on householders' property through the "first fix free" project.

The utility has €1.2 billion of the required funding and said it will be seeking to raise additional funding.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times