The sod was turned yesterday on a €40 million project to upgrade the Lee Road Water Treatment Plant.
The facility provides clean water to more than 70% of the city's population.
The sod-turning ceremony was performed by the Minister for Local Government Eoghan Murphy, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork, Fergal Dennehy and representatives from Irish Water and Cork City Council.
Water treated at the Lee Road is pumped to reservoirs in Shanakiel, Hollyhill, Churchfieldand to the Water Tower in Knocknaheeny and serves all of the city areas north of the River Lee, the city centre and the south-central part of Cork.
Areas of Mahon and Bishopstown in the south-east and south-west get their water from the Inniscarra Water Treatment Plant.
Under the upgrade plans, the capacity of the Lee Road plant will increase from the current 36,200 cubic metres of water produced every day to 40,000 cubic metres per day.
Other upgrades will include new filter units, sedimentation tanks, pumping station and an administration building.
New flood protections will also be built to avoid a reoccurrence of the November 2009 flood when the plant was badly damaged.
Irish Water has recently signed a two-year contract with J. Murphy & Sons Ltd to deliver this project. The works are expected to take approximately two years to complete.
It is expected the upgrade will also make the plant more energy efficient as the Lee Road Water Treatment Plant is one of the biggest energy consumers in Cork and the upgrade works will reduce the energy consumption and running costs of the water pumps by more than 10%.
There have been several upgrades to Lee Road Water Treatment Plant since 1879, but no major upgrades since the 1950s.
Minister Eoghan Murphy said: “It’s great to be here today to mark the start of this €40m project which is so important for the future of Cork city."
"As we have seen with recent events clean water is vital for homes and families across the country and the investment by Government in this infrastructure will ensure a safe, secure and sustainable water supply in Cork city for many years to come."
"We are here on the site of the original water supply scheme for Cork City which was established more than 250 years ago and marked a crucial step in the city’s development. This latest investment is another important milestone in securing Cork’s water supply into the future.”