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Meters show leaks in one in 20 homes

LEAKS have been found in one in 20 homes that have been fitted with water meters over the past two months.

Repairs have been carried out in 600 of the 12,000 homes metered since last August, and the State now faces the prospect of being forced to undertake repairs in thousands of homes across the country.

Irish Water confirmed that local authorities had carried out repairs after leaks were detected in mains pipes outside properties during the installation of meters.

Next month, Irish Water staff will begin monitoring water usage to determine if separate leaks are in pipes running into the house – which the Government has promised to fix for free. If the 5pc leakage rate is replicated across the country, up to 50,000 homes could be affected. Experts put the cost of fixing a leak at up to €600 each – meaning the final bill could be more than €30m.

"Where we open a hole in the pavement to put in a boundary box (which holds the meter), and we detect a leak, we notify the local authority which repairs it," a spokesman said.

AVERAGE

"We don't believe at this stage that the 5pc is the average as they have yet to go out across the country. When we have an area completed, in four to six weeks, we will read meters by driving by and see if there's constant flows. If there's a constant flow, it tells you there could be a leak."

Some 12,000 meters have already been installed in Fingal, Kildare, Kerry, Meath, Wexford, Limerick, Mayo and Dublin city.

The metering programme will be rolled-out in all regions by year end, with 1.05 million to be installed by December 2016.

The extent of the leakage rates has previously been flagged in studies conducted by Galway City Council and Dublin City Council, with up to 6pc of all homes in the capital suspected of having a problem.

In many cases, homeowners will not be aware they have leaks as the water can be found under front gardens and may never appear on the surface.

Water charges will be introduced from October next year, with the first bills to be issued the following January.

hnews@herald.ie


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