Wednesday 25 April 2018

Irish Water will fix your leak for free – if it's big enough

Environment Minister Phil Hogan introduced water charges
Environment Minister Phil Hogan introduced water charges
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

ONLY serious leaks involving large volumes of water being wasted will be fixed under Government plans for a 'first fix free' policy for homeowners when charges are introduced.

Irish Water said as many as one in 20 homes with a meter, or 52,500, may have a leak on the property, but that it had yet to decide at what point it would be economical to make repairs.

The Government has provided €51m in funding to the commercial semi-state to deliver on a plan to fix leaks between meters and front doors of homes.

"Depending on what you define as a leak, our best estimate is that 4pc to 6pc of properties will have a leak," Irish Water's Head of Asset Management, Jerry Grant, told the Irish Independent.

"You have to decide what is a leak – you could have seepage of one litre a day, but if you go to the top of the scale it's either people with something extraordinary going on like large fish tanks in their garden or a serious leak. What is a leak is the question. To be perfectly honest, we have to develop a policy on what is a leak is before we go out to fix it. There has to be a quantum of leak before you decide if it's economical to fix."

Some 1.7bn litres of water are produced each day. Of this, some 680m litres – 40pc – is lost.

Data gleaned from 200,000 meters already installed in homes suggests that between 5pc and 6pc of the total leakage rate is from domestic properties, as much as 100m litres a day. Irish Water estimates that 50m litres could be recovered by fixing serious leaks.

The policy will not cover internal leaks, only the pipe between the meter and front door, where it enters the house. Using the lower figure, the €51m 'first fix free' package will cover repairs to 42,500 properties, but 52,500 may have problems.

Mr Grant added: "The minister (Environment Minister Phil Hogan) gave a policy decision to make €51m available. The priority is to drive out a policy, an approach on what triggers a leak. We will land on a policy, but there are a lot of factors we need to consider."

Water going through the meter at night, when usage would be expected to be low, or large volumes being consumed, will suggest a problem.

The customer will be informed, and 'invited' to avail of the policy. Customers can approach the company if they feel they are being over-charged.

Irish Independent

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