Silent Valley Reservoir

Silent Valley Reservoir

Infobox lake
lake_name = Silent Valley Reservoir
image_lake = SilentValley.jpg
caption_lake =
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location = County Down, Northern Ireland
coords = coord|54|08|N|6|00|W|region:GB_type:waterbody_source:GNS-enwiki|display=inline,title
type = reservoir
inflow =
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catchment =
basin_countries = Ireland
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The Silent Valley Reservoir is a reservoir located in the Mourne Mountains near Kilkeel, County Down in Northern Ireland. It supplies most of the water for County Down, surrounding counties and most of Belfast. It is owned and maintained by Northern Ireland Water Limited (formerly DRD Water Service). The reservoir was built in the 1920s by a workforce of over one thousand men, nine of whom died.


With Belfast's rapid growth, there was a fast growing demand for more and more water. The already two upload water catchments were becoming increasingly insufficient. Local civil engineer, Luke Livingstone McCassey was appointed the task of finding a source of water large enough to sustain Belfast. Five potential sites were surveyed in County Down, and County Antrim. McCassey ultimately decided on the Mournes in Down. The reason the Mournes proved so popular with McCassey was because of the cleanliness of the water, and its high amount of rainfall - both paramount factors in water sources. Upon deciding on the site, water commissioners agreed on building a 9000-acre catchment area. This area is more commonly known as the Mourne Wall, built entirely by hand, taking eighteen years to complete. At the time the catchment was capable of providing some 30 million gallons of water per day, but this was too much. A scheme was developed and divided into 3 stages:

# The first stage was to divert water from the Kilkeel and Annalong river through pipes to a reservoir near Carryduff. These water pipes were capable of supplying 10 million gallons of water per day.
# The second stage was to build a storage reservoir across the Kilkeel River, after new pipes laid there were able to supply another 10 million gallons of water per day.
# The third stage was building another storage reservoir in Annalong to impound the Annalong River.

The Binnian Tunnel

Between 1947 and 1951 over 150 men drove a tunnel almost two and a half miles long underneath Slieve Binnian. The tunnel was built to carry water from the Annalong valley to the Silent Valley Dam, which had been completed in 1920, 20 years earlier. This was to further supply the growing demands of Belfast's water supply. Two work squads began at each end of the tunnel, and met half way almost 800 metres under the mountain. The technology in the day was lacking in every standard, and was led by candle light. When the two squads met, they were mere inches off. The tunnel measures 8 feet square - and 2.25 miles long (3.6 km). Its entry is at Dunnywater and its exit is on the roadside, a short distance from the visitor's centre. The Binnian Tunnel was officially opened on Thursday, 28 August, 1952.

External links

* [ Northern Ireland Water Limited]
* [ Department of Regional Development]
* [ BBC - Article on the history of the Silent Valley]
* [ BBC - Binnian Tunnel]
* [ Newry and Mourne tourism]

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