Only half of households notified about water leaks on their property have responded to requests for repairs to be carried out by Irish Water.
Irish Water managing director Jerry Grant said that the average leakage found under driveways amounted to six tonnes of wasted water a day, equal to amounts used by over 20 households.
The committee also heard that some 5% of households were responsible for almost a third of water used, mainly due to leaks.
TDs and senators on the Oireachtas Water Committee yesterday sought answers about the installing, use and practicality of water meters in Ireland. Members must agree recommendations for the future of water charges by the middle of next month, before a Dáil vote follows.
Mr Grant said only 50,000 out of an estimated 100,000 households had replied or agreed to repairs for water leaks. In some cases, two to three letters were sent to households to get access to fix leaks. Up to 28,000 of those properties have had leaks repaired to date.
“6,500 or nearly 7,000 of those are under gardens and driveways, 21,000 in homes. The total amount of water that is no longer recorded by those 28,000 meters is 77 million litres per day,” Mr Grant said.
He told members that Irish Water repairs from its free first fix policy for households had saved this amount. This equated to the entire amount used by Galway City and county in a day.
Up to 893,000 meters have now been installed in households. But the process of meter installation has been frozen while the pros and cons of the charging system are debated by the Oireachtas. Mr Grant said there were 4,407 district meters across the country, including 750 in Dublin, which assess usage for whole communities.
The committee heard from Scottish Water last week which said most of its metering was through district charging, where a general charging system was applied.
Irish Water has been given €118m over a ten-year period to address leaks, improve its metering system, part of which has gone to upgrading the district metering.
However, Mr Grant admitted to TDs that the benefits of specific household meters without charges or ancillary conservation methods would be “marginal” when it came to cost saving. Fixing of leaks “dwarfed” all other conservation methods, he added.
The committee, though, also heard that the fixing of broken water meters cost between €2m and €3m over two years. This is likely to increase in the coming years.
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