Insurance firm advice to leave taps on 'not acceptable'
Published 13/01/2010 | 05:00
A MAJOR insurance company has been lambasted for advising householders to leave kitchen taps running in order to prevent their pipes from freezing.
Dublin City Council said the actions of FBD Insurance were "just not acceptable" when households nationwide were being urged to conserve water.
The company, which has the fourth-biggest property insurance business in the country, said homeowners could leave taps trickling to avoid the disruption of frozen and burst pipes.
But Dublin City Council said yesterday that one small tap running in a house was the same as the total demand of nine houses in a normal day.
"That is just not acceptable," city manager John Tierney said of the advice on the FBD website. "If taps are being left running, they are creating a shortage of water pressure around the city."
Dublin City engineer Michael Phillips said that "nobody has any right to waste water like that" and that it was not a sustainable practice.
Environment Minister John Gormley said water demand was up 25pc, mostly because of people leaving their taps open.
"This (running taps) has traditionally been the response and has been the advice from some quarters," he said.
The FBD website says that "in freezing conditions you can leave the kitchen tap trickling (very slightly) as moving water will not freeze" on a blog entry dated before Christmas.
But yesterday the company said it was telling customers to conserve water and its advice had been misinterpreted.
"FBD advises its customers to conserve water in protecting the fabric of their properties in extreme weather conditions," the statement said. "FBD does not condone the irresponsible usage of water resources. We regret any misinterpretation of advice given in good faith."
Mr Tierney said people should no longer be permanently running taps as the thaw had started. "People who are doing that are actually creating problems," he said.
"The conservation message comes from the fact that our demand for last Sunday was 634 megalitres and it should be closer to 545. That is having a huge impact on our reserves."
Mr Phillips said the situation was "very critical" in the city but there was evidence yesterday that demand had decreased overnight.