Irish Water has said that four in 10 leaks on properties surveyed are coming from internal problems in homes where it will not arrange for repairs.
Announcing details of its first free fix policy, it said it had identified leaks in surveys where wasted water would fill as much as 18 Olympic-size swimming pools a day.
More than 30,000 suspected leaks on customer properties have been identified during the first meter readings.
Irish Water says the leaks are wasting around 46m litres of water every day.
Its first fix scheme will offer investigations for customers to identify leaks and provide a free repair of leaks located on external supply pipes, located between the meter box and the point of entry to the property.
The company said yesterday that this did not include leaks inside homes.
Results from a pilot study of 532 metered properties in the north Kildare and north Dublin City areas showed that more than 40% of leaks detected were due to internal plumbing issues.
Irish Water maintain that the installation of water meters will help identify where leaks are, even though all bills will be capped until 2018 and usage will largely be irrelevant for most bill payers.
Under the first free fix scheme:
Otherwise, residents will have to arrange their own repairs for leaks in a home.
The entire metering programme is also set to cost €539m, money which will factored into people’s bills.
Irish Water says 7% of all meters read to the end of 2014 show a leak on the customer side of the meter.
Almost 1,100 of these leaks are wasting over 10,000 litres a day and this wastes over 20m litres of treated water a day.
The company says it is now writing to customers where the water meter installed at their home indicates a leak.
The announcement of the first free fix policy comes after over a year’s delay in the scheme and amid concern about confusion for property owners on how and when they can get leaks fixed.
While the company’s survey shows four in 10 leaks in properties are coming from inside the home, it remains unclear overall how many owners on a national scale will have to pay for their own repairs.
The Government has allocated €51m to the end of next year to fund the implementation of the first fix scheme.
The first water bills are expected to begin landing in people’s homes in the coming weeks.
Opponents of the new charge want a mass boycott of bills and point to recent marches which they say shows the large numbers who will refuse to pay.
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