The €4.13m funding from central Government necessary for the replacement of nearly 30 kms of elderly Mullingar watermains was finally released this week, two years after the contract was awarded, and one year after work was supposed to start.
The work - driven by a quiet EU Directive which promotes the updating and consolidation of clean water supplies - could lead to reductions in water rates for the businesses of the town of up to 20 per cent.
Phil Hogan, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government announced on Tuesday May 21 that he has “approved the required funding to allow Westmeath County Council to accept the tender of Shareridge Ltd in the amount of €4.13 million for the Mullingar watermains rehabilitation contract”. Two years ago this figure was quoted at €4.5m.
Shareridge is a specialist subsidiary of the Castlebar-based McNamara construction empire.
The objective of this contract is to replace 29.3km of defective watermains, some of which are over 100 years old.
At the council meeting in May 2011 to give this contract the green light, an engineer with the water department estimated that: “We expect to save 15 to 20 per cent of our water with this project”.
“As we’re [the council] a not-for-profit organisation, these savings have to be passed on to the customer,” he added.
He estimated the project would take up to six months to complete “but it’ll probably just be one week [of disruption] here and there for affected areas”.
No start date has yet been announced for this work, but previous indications from the council would see it being starting during the summer holidays.
The project will also use the latest in pipe-laying technology, such as drill boring the 300mm (1ft ) mains pipe where appropriate, and sleeve lining, where the new pipe is inserted inside the older main. All of these techniques will also “minimise the disruption”.
Over 100 trial holes and trenches have already been excavated around the town to help pinpoint other services, and the start of the full work was originally pencilled in for spring 2012.
The project will be replacing iron, asbestos, and PVC piping from half a mile beyond St Finian’s College to the Mullingar Park Hotel, and from Robinstown to the Lynn Road.
The work for Mullingar is one of three major contracts to reduce the levels of unaccounted-for water in Westmeath, and is part of a total of over €15 million invested in watermains rehabilitation in the county.
This itself is part of a total overall allocation of over €157 million in water services in Westmeath over the course of the current water services investment programme, which included a brand new €40m sewerage system and treatment plant completed in May 2010 which can cater for a potential Mullingar population of up to 55,000 people.