AT least 400 jobs installing water meters from this summer will be given to graduates, the unemployed or staff of small businesses.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan has said the metering programme will include a "social inclusion" requirement aimed at bolstering smaller companies and helping people on the live register. Some 1,600 jobs will be created installing more than one million meters over the next three years, beginning from July.
Another 400 will be created in the Irish Water call centre, which will begin contacting households asking them to confirm their address and other details so that billing can take place from next year.
In a statement, Mr Hogan said the "ambitious plan" to install the meters would include a condition that 25pc of all jobs – or 400 posts – would go to people in need of work.
Some 160 jobs would be drawn from small and medium-sized companies, another 160 would be for people on the unemployment register and the remaining 80 would be targeted at apprentices, graduates or school-leavers.
"Irish Water's metering programme is an ambitious plan by international standards," Mr Hogan said.
"This programme will create up to 2,000 jobs with a particular focus on ensuring that skilled workers are given an opportunity to re-enter the workforce and for small businesses to benefit."
"Irish Water will install 27,000 meters per month, which is a challenging target but deliverable by having local crews working on the ground."
Irish Water is currently tendering for companies to provide 1.05 million meters and boundary boxes (which house the meters), along with regional management contractors to run the metering programme and a customer call centre.
Contracts are expected to be awarded in May.