Tom Kilfeather is a native of Grange Co. Sligo and was educated at Grange N.S. and Summerhill College Sligo. A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Tom worked in a number of private sector firms, including Magee Weaving Ltd, Donegal & Allegion Pharmeceuticals, Westport in various accounting and management positions. November 2001 Tom joined Sligo County Council as Head of Finance and was appointed Director of Services for Infrastructure in April 2008.
The Water Services Section of the Council has a dual responsibility, in the management of all existing water services infrastructure to service current needs and also to provide new facilities to satisfy future growth and development in Sligo. All of this work is carried out within a regulatory framework of National and European legislation which sets out compliance standards for the operation and upgrade of our water and wastewater schemes. The section currently manages seven water treatment plants, supplying approximately 40,000 cubic metres of drinking water daily through a pipeline network of almost 1,500 kilometres. It also manages 30 wastewater treatment plants located in various towns and villages throughout the county. The annual operation and maintenance budget for the provision of water services is about €12.5 million. The section currently has 64 staff dealing with all water and wastewater related issues within the Council. On 1st January 2004, Sligo County Council was also assigned responsibility for all water services functions within the borough area of Sligo.
In recent years Sligo County Council has overseen an investment of €110 million in our water services capital programme. The council has an efficient and progressive water services project office which manages capital investment in the delivery of new infrastructure. The water services investment programme, funds all new major schemes, e.g. the Sligo Main Drainage Wastewater Treatment Plant, which was opened in May 2009, is the largest infrastructural project in Sligo in recent years, at a total cost of €37M, and the new Kilsellagh water treatment plant. The rural water programme provides funding for the construction of new group water schemes as well as small scheme upgrades on existing public infrastructure. The Design Build Operate Water Schemes project involved the construction of 11 new water treatment plants funded under this programme. Sligo County Council has also funded 5 new wastewater treatment plants and numerous upgrade works on our water supply schemes from development levies income. Value for money has always been a core objective in the delivery of new infrastructure under the capital programme, and great credit is due to the elected members and staff for completing these facilities on time and within budget. The targeted delivery of these new and upgraded schemes have enabled us to provide reliable, high quality water supply and wastewater treatment facilities to communities across the county and also ensures that we meet the demands placed on us by National Regulations and EU Directives.
- Works on new Treatment Plant at Kilsellagh
The provision and maintenance of a quality road network is one of the most important functions of a Local Authority, and in 2009 alone Sligo County Council allocated over €15.75 million on the county’s public road network. A further €500,000 was invested in the upgrade of non-public roads under the Local Improvement Scheme in the same period.
2009 also saw the allocation of €4.4 million by the National Roads Authority towards the maintenance and improvement of the national road network in County Sligo. The economic down-turn and subsequent diminution of capital funding will impact on our capital programme, but it is important that we maintain the momentum and continue to progress the development of our national roads.
Sligo County Council is responsible for maintaining a stock of over 350 bridges, the vast majority over 130 years old. As well as being a vital part of our road infrastructure, they also form a valuable part of our built heritage, with some dating back to the 13th Century. Over the last few years the Council has carried out an extensive programme of maintenance and repair on many of the county’s bridges.
The elected members of Sligo County Council have been hugely supportive of the major projects being delivered by the Infrastructure Directorate, and our staff have shown great professionalism and dedication to delivering our wide range of services. The front-line staff were rightly commended for their contribution over the Christmas and new year period, as our roads and water services personnel worked around the clock to treat our road network and maintain our water supplies. For me, this commitment exemplified the true meaning of public service, and I know this view is shared by the community we serve.
Councillor Patsy Barry is a Member of Sligo County Council representing the Sligo-Drumcliffe electoral area. He is Chairman of the Council’s Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) on Transportation and Infrastructural Policy
I think the Strategic Policy Committees fulfil a very useful role in discussing and shaping the Council’s policy on a range of important areas. The fact that business and community interests are represented on the committee adds an important dimension to its work. We have a very busy agenda, as over the next few years the Council will oversee the continued investment in our roads network and water and waste water infrastructure.
Over the last few years, Sligo County Council has worked very hard to progress the major projects in its capital roads programme, including the N17 Collooney to Tubbercurry and N4 Collooney to Castlebaldwin. The National Roads Authority has allocated over €2.5 million to Sligo’s National Primary Major Schemes in 2010, including €1.5 million to the N15 Sligo-Bundoran Road.
Another important part of our road infrastructure was put in place in December with the completion of Phase 1 of the Western Distributor Road (below). The significance of this road is that it opens up significant development lands to the West of Sligo, including IDA and other development land at Finisklin. It will also help to alleviate traffic congestion in the City centre.
- Western Distributor Road
Promoting road safety is a key objective, and we have worked alongside other key agencies in delivering our road safety message. For instance, the Council is working with the Students Union of Sligo IT to help us engage with a core target audience of 18-23 year olds, and the print and broadcast media share our objective to change the attitude and habits of many of our drivers.
Sligo County Council delivers 38 million litres of water a day to homes, schools, businesses, tourism and farming interests. The Consumer is provided with water from 10 major public water supply schemes. It is distributed through piped networks serving 59,000 people through in excess of 7000 service connections.
Over the last ten years or so, Sligo County Council has spent in excess of €40 million on the water supply infrastructure in the Sligo and Environs Area.
The most recent project to be delivered under this programme is Kilsellagh, and I am delighted to report that this major scheme is due to become operational. From the end of May, all consumers in the Sligo & Environs area will be receiving water of the highest quality.
The Kilsellagh plant cost in the region of €6 million, and I think the Council is to be commended for planning and delivering this valuable facility at a time when the financial resources were available.
Since the responsibility for group schemes was devolved to Local Authorities in 1997, Sligo County Council has also been active all over the county working with various group scheme committees to plan and deliver schemes to serve their communities. Schemes were provided last year in Glackbaun and the Coolaney rd/Collooney areas, and work on the Crossboy/Gortlouna Scheme near Ballintogher will be completed over the coming weeks.
Water is a scarce resource, and as a society we will simply have to find a way to conserve it. In Sligo County Council’s view, conservation is the most cost-effective and environmental way to reduce our demand for water. Water conservation is a key link between balancing current and future water needs. The available water conservation technology focuses on resources for local businesses, industries, communities and individuals.
- Pupils from Local schools at the launch of Sligo Local Authorities’ Water Conservation Programme
However the main water loss of a water supply system is caused primarily by leakages in the pipe system. Other influences such as loose fittings and joints and water meters can cause permanent loss. Sligo County Council is working with a project team under Dr Tom Curran of UCD to promote greater awareness of the importance of water conservation, and in recent times the Council has published information booklets targeted at homes, schools and farms. I would encourage anyone interested in water conservation to visit the website www.sligowater.com Which has a wealth of information on preserving this scarce resource.