Major upgrade to 150 year old Water Supply for North Wicklow and South Dublin

Irish Water has commenced design and planning for significant works to the Vartry Water Supply Scheme in North Wicklow.

These works will secure the water supply for the long-term and ensure the scheme continues to meet all drinking water standards. 
Treated water from Vartry provides drinking water for one of the most densely populated areas in the country. The supply area stretches from Roundwood through Wicklow, to South Dublin, and serves around 220,000 customers.

The plant was originally constructed in the 1860s and was a feat of engineering for its time, which involved the building of two reservoirs, a water treatment plant, a 4km long tunnel under Callowhill and forty miles of trunk main to deliver water to the supply area. The scheme was a significant engineering feat, with much of the ground and building works being carried out and completed by men using picks and shovels.

Jerry Grant, Head of Asset Management with Irish Water said “It is a testament to the success of the Vartry water supply scheme that it still provides drinking water to around 15% of the Greater Dublin Area. However, the scheme has had no major upgrade since it was first built over 150 years ago and is now in need of urgent investment to secure the water supply for the long-term and ensure current drinking water standards are met.”

The Vartry Scheme is a priority project for Irish Water, given its importance to so many people in Wicklow, Dun Laoghaire and other areas of South Dublin.

Upgrade works will include improvements at Vartry Reservoir and Vartry Water Treatment Plant and a new connection from the treatment plant to Callowhill.

Detailed engineering designs are being prepared and studies are currently underway to assess any potential impacts the proposed works could have on the environment. The environmental studies will help to guide the engineering designs for the project and will be made publicly available.

As a result of the upgrade, plans are also underway to extend the Vartry scheme to secure the water supply to areas of Mid Wicklow including Rathdrum, Aughrim, Annacurra, Avoca, Ballinaclash, Roundwood, Laragh, Annamoe, Redcross, Conary and Glenealy. These areas are currently served by water sources which have been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as being at risk of failure to meet the current drinking water regulations.

A planning application for the works at Vartry will be submitted to Wicklow County Council in the Spring and local residents and the general public will have the opportunity to give their views. It is intended that a number of local information days will be arranged in 2016 to explain the proposed upgrades. Further information is available at