Water is one of the prime natural resources, an essential commodity for all living systems, but vulnerable to contamination and pollution by human activities. It is continually renewed by the natural hydrological cycle of evaporation, vapour transportation and rainfall. In many semiarid areas of the world water has to be collected each day, often by women and children, walking many miles to the nearest well, yet in the developed world we expect to be able to turn on the tap and have as much water as we want, when we want. Not only that, but we expect it all to be clean and safe to drink, even though only a small fraction will be actually consumed or used for food preparation.


In third world countries the lack of water has contributed to the death of 100 million children in the past 20 years. Many millions more people have died from waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and dysentery contracted from inadequate and polluted drinking water sources. Water supply is a primary infrastructural need of all communities worldwide, playing a key role in the promotion of public health and the elimination of disease. While there are many problem areas in the world today, the overall quality of public water supplies in the Republic of Ireland are amongst the highest in Europe.

Every day each one of us uses large quantities of water. It is vital for drinking and cooking, and for many other domestic and agricultural uses.

Industry uses water in vast quantities to manufacture everything from paper to motor cars, electricity to computers. High quality water is used, for example, in the electric power generation, pharmaceutical and semi-conductor industries. A supply of water is also required to protect our homes, our workplaces and our livelihoods from the dangers of fire.

During the last century engineers have developed the technologies used to control and modulate water quality to meet the European
Union standards that govern its use for drinking purposes and its related uses in industrial manufacturing. The treatment and distribution of clean drinking water requires an enormous investment both in money and expertise and a considerable commitment from local authorities and others whose job it is to supply our water.

In the West of Ireland, this investment and commitment has been remarkable since the 1960¹s and has coincided with the surge in our economic development in the intervening period. Prior to that time only the larger towns in the region had any degree of water treatment, storage facilities and distribution network. Most rural areas had only individual water supply systems deriving water primarily from groundwater sources.

In the 1960's and 1970's the Government invested in the development of group schemes to supply landowners and householders in rural areas. In parallel the local authorities embarked on:
  • the identification of sources capable of supplying larger regions of each county
  • the planning and construction of regional schemes involving water treatment plants, water storage facilities and distribution pipe networks to supply the needs of these regions.

To these ends, the counties of Mayo and Galway in particular are blessed with a large number of inland lakes with excellent water quality such as L Corrib in North Galway, L. Mask in South Mayo, L. Conn and L. Carrowmore in North Mayo, Corrymore Lake in Achill, and Lough Rea in east Galway.
These lakes have been identified and used by the local authorities as sources for large regional water supply schemes to supply most of counties of Mayo and Galway. Public water supplies in County Roscommon are mainly derived from groundwater sources.

The hundreds of millions of pounds necessary to provide the existing and continuing development of water supply infrastructure in the region through the implementation of these schemes over the last 25 years have been made possible by grant aid from EU Structural and Cohesion funds.