First water meters to be installed next month
Completion date of 2016 for €539m project
DETAILS of the first 12 towns and areas in line for water metering can be revealed today.
Homeowners in Maynooth, Celbridge and Leixlip in Co Kildare will have meters installed as early as next month.
They will be quickly followed by Tralee, Navan and Wexford in September and Dublin city, Limerick city, Castlebar and Fingal in October.
It will cost €539m to install 1.05 million meters, an average of €500 each, with the works being funded by the National Pension Reserve Fund.
Managing director of Irish Water John Tierney said he expected 40pc of all meters to be installed by September next year, with the remainder to be in place by December 2016.
But customers will not know how much they are expected to pay until at least next year, he admitted. This is because the Commission for Energy Regulation, which will set the tariffs, has yet to set the final price – expected to be between €300 and €350 a year.
"We have a lot of challenges to meet including an ageing infrastructure and growing population," Mr Tierney said. "Part of this (process) is how we change the perception of people to realising it's all about consumption and eventually they're going to become customers.
"The metering programme is an enormous infrastructure project. We face significant challenges but I'm very confident we will meet our objectives."
The meters will take two hours to be installed under footpaths outside people's homes. Homeowners will be notified 14 days in advance of the works taking place.
Two-person installation teams will fit up to seven meters a day, between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Saturday.
About 1,600 full-time jobs will be created, which will last for at least three years. Irish Water will eventually employ 500 people, many drawn from local authorities, Bord Gais and the Department of the Environment, while an additional 400 positions in a call centre will also be created.
Three regional contractors have been appointed to oversee the installation programme across six regions: Coffey Northumbrian, GMC/Sierra and J Murphy & Sons. The remaining two contracts will be awarded next month.
About 4,000 people are currently employed in water services in local authorities and, while the number will fall, Mr Tierney said there would be no forced redundancies. Many would continue working in the water sector.
About 500,000 homes cannot be metered, but the Department of the Environment said it intended changing the planning laws to oblige developers to install boundary boxes, into which water meters would be fitted, in all new developments, including apartments.
Mr Tierney said that up to €600m a year had to be invested in the network to modernise it, which would be funded through domestic and commercial charges, borrowings and some money from central government.
Charge will create hundreds of jobs
* What's the latest development with Irish Water?
The company announced details of the first homes to be metered – starting next month in Maynooth, Leixlip and Celbridge in Kildare. In September, work begins in Tralee, Navan and Wexford town, followed by Dublin city, Limerick city, Castlebar in Mayo and Fingal in Dublin in October.
* What does this mean?
Homeowners will be written to advising as to the planned date of installation. Irish Water workers, who will carry identification, will only enter your property to check your water is running after they have installed the meter in the footpath outside your home.
* Any jobs involved?
1,600 metering jobs will be created, 400 of which are for the unemployed, small businesses and school leavers and graduates. Another 500 jobs will eventually be created in Irish Water, some of which will come from local authorities and the Department of the Environment. Another 400 people will be employed in a call centre.
* How much will this cost?
€539m, funded by the National Pension Reserve Fund. More than one million meters will be installed, 40pc of which by September 2014.
* Will I have to pay for the meter?
Not yet known. The charges, including a standing charge, will be decided by the Commission for Energy Regulation. Details to follow early next year.
* How long will it last?
A radio unit, which allows it to be read remotely, will last about 15 years. The rest of the meter system is made from plastic and should last far longer.
* What if I can't get a meter?
You'll be billed on the basis of the average consumption per person.
* Can I check my consumption?
Yes, but only by physically inspecting the meter.