Killyfole Waterworks

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In the early 1960s Lisnaskea Rural District Council decided to turn the Killyfole Lough into a reservoir for the supply of piped water to the Rosslea, Newtownbutler, Lisnaskea, Maguiresbridge and Brookeborough districts. It was planned that the network of mains would supply approximately 15,000 people and provide agricultural water for a total of 116,000 acres.

A filter house was built at the eastern end of the Lough where the water was treated and then pumped to a service reservoir at Corranny two miles away. The mill was demolished when the sluice was built. While the provision of piped water was a necessity for households and for the small milk producers of the area who were coming under pressure to have a supply of running water to cool milk, it made a drastic difference to the Lough.

When the Lough became a water supply, bathing was forbidden. To compensate for this, a walkway was created round the Lough shore, but unfortunately after a few years this was allowed to fall into disrepair. Similarly, an attempt was made to kill off the coarse fish and have the lake re-stocked with trout. A great number of pike were killed off but that was not successful for, as one fisherman put it : “They say fish don’t have much brains, but if a pike has survived long enough to become a big pike, it knows that when men are around spraying nasty stuff, the safest place is the bottom of the lake” Since Killyfole is very deep in places, sufficient “inland sharks” survived to enjoy the trout when they came. Local people were sad to lose the use of the lake, but at the same time were glad that the area as a whole had a supply of good, clean water.

In 1968, when the plant opened, Mr Willie Creighton was appointed Water Caretaker and was thus in charge of the plant. He says, “those first five years at Killyfole were the happiest of my working life.” His daily work involved checking the various meters, testing the treated water, setting chemical doses and washing the filters. Every week or so, there was an inspection from an industrial chemist. Willie found the chemistry part of the work very interesting and one of the particular pleasures of the work was showing parties of school children around. He would set up some experiments to show them the various treatments. As he says, “some of them were very interested in the chemistry of it all and would ask relevant questions but, of course, there were always the few who were more interested in slipping round the corner for a smoke.”

When the reservoir was planned, it was thought that the demand for water would reach a certain level and then remain fairly static. However, the cheese factory opened in Lisnaskea and was, at one time, using almost half of what Killyfole could produce. Additional plant and improved filters were installed to increase the yield. Willie remembers one particularly dry year : “We didn’t run out of water, but we were saving all we could. The bed of the lake was dry for a long distance out. People came and walked round it. It wasn’t safe to get out to the crannog. It is frightening to see how deep the lake is when you go out a bit.” Willie received promotion and was in charge of distribution over the area and so ended his close contact with Killyfole. Eventually the decision was taken to replace all the smaller water schemes with a large treatment plant near Enniskillen and the last water supply was taken from Killyfole in 1998. The buildings and the lake surroundings were left to deteriorate to the disappointment of the local population.