More than 43% of the water produced across the country is being wasted.
AT LEAST 685 million litres of our water is being lost every day because of widespread leaks, a creaking water infrastructure and illegal connections to the network, according to figures obtained by the Irish Examiner.
The problem is so great that at least a quarter of local authorities cannot account for more than half of the water they produce each day.
More than 43% of the water produced across the country is being wasted, 25 local authorities have revealed when questioned by the Irish Examiner.
This water loss is costing the public service millions of euro as production has to be accelerated to ensure waterworks can meet the growing needs of the population.
Some of the highest levels of unaccounted-for water are in parts of Kilkenny and Roscommon, where up to 60% of water produced is lost.
Offaly County Council appears to be fighting a losing battle with up to 53% of water produced lost.
Some private housing schemes in Monaghan are recording water loss figures of 50-57%.
Half of the water produced in Co Clare and South Tipperary is lost to leaks, illegal connections, old service connections and inadequate water mains schemes.
Up to 42% of water produced in Co Cork is unaccounted for, while the figure stands at 42% in Cork city. Limerick city is losing 47.5% of water it produces.
All the city and county councils say that much of the water is lost at the consumer end of supply and they have their sights set on reducing water loss by double digits in the coming years due to planned government investment.
Some of the lowest figures for unaccounted-for water are in Kildare where a mere 25% is lost, Fingal where just 24% is lost and in Waterford where 30% is lost.
A spokesman for the Department of the Environment said last night that it is committed to water conservation and has allocated e288 million to the issue since 2003. “This level of funding is, by any measure, a very substantial investment and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to maximising efficiency in the way our water supply resources are managed and used.”
Green party Senator Dan Boyle told the Irish Examiner that if we are to invest further in water, we have to examine how we will pay for this modernisation.
“Throughout Europe and elsewhere these costs are met by a separate system of charging for water. This isn’t necessarily the best response but it should at least be worthy of consideration, something the Commission on Taxation and the green paper reform of local government represent good opportunities for doing,” he said.
Labour party environment spokeswoman Liz Mc Manus said it was “intolerable” that water loss figures were so high when commercial bodies and schools now had their water usage metered.
“This is terribly wasteful. This is essential infrastructure that needs to be upgraded. We have known about the condition of the water network for some time but clearly, not enough has been done,” she said.