Irish water project prepares for second tunnelling phase

8 December 2023

Preparations are under way for the second phase of tunnelling for the wastewater upgrade in Athlone, Co Westmeath, Ireland.

Uisce Éireann (formerly Irish Water), in partnership with Westmeath County Council, is installing nearly 3km of underground sewer pipes to reduce the risk of sewer flooding in Athlone and improve water quality in the River Shannon.

Tunnelling for the Athlone Main Drainage Scheme began in September in the Deerpark/Showgrounds area of Athlone. These works are scheduled for completion in early 2024.

The next phase of tunnelling – at Burgess Park, The Strand, and the Upper Shannon Crossing – will start in January. Preparation works for the tunnelling works are under way at several locations, and include the diversion of services.

The project is using micro-tunnelling to minimise disruption to the community and on the environment.

The €114m investment is one of the largest capital investments by Uisce Éireann to date.

Commenting on the importance of this phase of the project, Eunan Canavan, Portfolio Manager at Uisce Éireann, said: “We are delighted that this essential capital investment for the people of Athlone has made so much progress over the last twelve months, and we look forward to moving on to the next phase in January of next year.  “Athlone’s vibrant historical legacy is never far away. As we progressed with the sewer upgrade, we were delighted to have uncovered part of the town’s proud history.

Under the Strand Car Park, historical artefacts such as pottery sherds, a clay tobacco pipe, and glass fragments were discovered, likely from the latter half of the17th century together with some sherds of medieval pottery.”

Eunan added: “While Uisce Éireann is honoured to be part of future-proofing Athlone’s wastewater infrastructure for generations to come, it is equally important to us to protect and preserve the abundant history of times past, so that it can be experienced by current generations.”

Cathaoirleach of Westmeath County Council, Liam McDaniel added: “I am delighted to see the significant progress made throughout 2023 and the commencement of the next vital phase of the project in January.  The provision of adequate wastewater infrastructure, not only for our existing population but for our future growth, is vital so that we are ready to meet the opportunities of the coming years. I would like to thank Uisce Éireann and Westmeath County Council and commend them for their hard work, 24/7, to ensure the continuity of critical drinking water and wastewater services.”

Ward and Burke Construction Ltd is delivering the Athlone Main Drainage Scheme on behalf of Uisce Éireann Ltd and the scheme is expected to be completed in Q4 of 2025.

Uisce Éireann will continue to engage with the local community throughout the duration of the project. For more information, visit the project page at

Uisce Éireann is responsible for delivering public drinking water and wastewater services for the people of Ireland. We are committed to enabling communities to thrive by continuously upgrading and developing critical infrastructure to support sustainable growth and development, providing safe drinking water, and enhancing the environment.