IRISH Water is to spend €28m upgrading leaking pipes which will save 1.6 million litres of water a day. More than 70kms of pipework, some up to 100 years old, will be replaced over a four-year programme due to begin later this year.
The investment is the latest stage of the Dublin Region Watermains Rehabilitation project overseen by the city's local authorities, which has already yielded savings amounting to 11 million litres of water a day.
The latest tranche of funding will help to save the equivalent amount of water used by more than 13,000 people every day.
Burst pipes, water supply disruptions and poor water pressure are ongoing problems for Dublin's water supply, and many of the existing watermains are cast iron pipes installed up to 100 years ago. Of the approximately 9,200kms of pipe in the Dublin Region, nearly 800kms were installed before 1930. Almost 1,000kms were laid before 1940.
This project will replace the oldest and the most ineffective watermains with the highest leakage rates with new heavy-duty polyethylene pipes.
Irish Water said that leak management measures, leakage reduction, pressure control and water quality improvements will also be implemented.
The company has begun a scoping exercise to identify the worst-performing mains, and will rank them in order of priority for replacement.
Some works will be carried out alongside other infrastructure projects, such as roads resurfacing, to reduce the impact on traffic and pedestrians.
"One third of Dublin's treated drinking water in the Dublin region is lost through leaks, a situation that is both environmentally and economically unsustainable," said Jerry Grant, Head of Asset Management with Irish Water.
"Currently in Dublin, water supply is operating with spare capacity of around 10 per cent. There is also significant new demand to be met as the economy recovers and so conserving the region's precious water resources is essential."
The company will spend some €410m this year improving water infrastructure. Some €600m is needed annually in the short term to bring the network up to standard. Irish Water's Water Conservation Strategy is to work towards reducing leakage to 25 per cent by 2026 and 20 per cent by 2040.
However, the city also needs a new drinking water supply, and options are being assessed.