Address by Minister John Paul Phelan at the sod-turning event to mark the start of the upgrade works to the Inistioge-Thomastown Water Supply Schemes
I am delighted to be here this morning to officially mark the start of upgrade works to the Inistioge and Thomastown Water Supply Schemes. As always with projects of this scale there are a large number of people involved and I would like to extend a special welcome to the Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council, Councillor David Fitzgerald, Colette Byrne Chief Executive of Kilkenny County Council, and her colleagues in the water services department, Michael Tinsley and staff from Irish Water, representatives from Ward and Burke Construction and elected representatives joining us here this morning.
Importance of a waste water treatment plant to the area
We all know that Irish Water has featured heavily in the news in the past. But for the most part, the work that the Utility has been carrying out on the ground since its formation has far too often been overlooked. Water and wastewater infrastructure are not something we think about too often until something goes wrong.
Access to fresh, clean water is often taken for granted and constrained by funding, Ireland’s water sector has suffered from decades of under investment and large parts of the water network are fragmented with some infrastructure dating back to the 19th century. In simple terms, some of the infrastructure in place to ensure you can turn on your tap and know you will receive clean, safe water, is older than the Irish State itself.
Having adequate water and wastewater infrastructure that is properly maintained on an ongoing basis becomes harder to ignore when you take a look at the housing situation that exists in Ireland today. In Rebuilding Ireland – the Government’s plan for addressing housing issues and homelessness in the country, the importance of the right infrastructure, in particular water and wastewater infrastructure, is clearly outlined.
The bottom line is, without safe and reliable water and wastewater infrastructure, social and economic development cannot happen. Having this infrastructure in place, from the local to regional to national level, is vital in Ireland’s recovery.
The communities of Inistioge and Thomastown are currently supplied by two separate water supply schemes which currently operate independently. The source supplying Inistioge has had historical issues of drying out during prolonged dry weather and due to its peaty catchment area, heavy rainfall causes a reduction in the efficiency of the water treatment process, significantly reducing the water quality in the area. A temporary plant has been in place since 2010, however, the Inistioge Water Supply Scheme remains on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Remedial Action List of at risk water supplies.
The €10 million being invested here by Irish Water will link the Inistioge and Thomastown water networks and supply the entire network from Thomastown which will allow for the abandonment of the existing vulnerable water source at Inistioge. The works will address water quality and quantity deficiencies and is an example of the work being carried out across Ireland by Irish Water rationalising the number of water treatment plants.
Once completed over the next year and a half, it will mean that the residents, businesses and the agricultural communities in Inistioge, Thomastown and the surrounding rural areas will benefit from improved drinking water quality, reduced disruptions to supply, improved security of both supply and water pressure.
Thank you all again for joining us here this morning and I look forward to returning to view the project once it is complete and seeing first-hand the benefits it brings to the communities here.