THE head of Irish Water's parent company has defended the water utility for running €100m over budget on the installation of water meters.
Ervia chief executive Michael McNicholas has also denied he has a conflict of interest from his work for a company which has water contracts.
Mr McNicholas said there was one final estimate of €539m for water meter installation and would hit this figure.
He said there was a reason for the €100m gap:
* the estimate was made before survey details from local authorities were received;
* three regional contracts to spread the workload;
* contractors wouldn't sign up for the bid price.
Mr McNicholas said the company want to the market in a full procurement process.
He said Irish Water has installed 500,000 water meters - half of the total.
He said there are a "number of pockets", mainly in the Cork or Dublin, area where work is being held up by protesters.
Mr McNicholas said Irish Water will come in on budget at €539m.
"At the moment we are on target and ahead of budget," he said.
Mr McNicholas holds shares in and is an adviser to NTR plc. That company carries out water meter and waste-water installation.
He said his involvement with NCR is solely in an advisory capacity.
"Anything else would be a conflict of interest," he said.
Mr McNicholas said he is complying with the code of conduct for Irish Water.
"It removes any perception," he said.