The Housing Minister has moved to reassure the public that households that waste water inadvertently will be given time to identify their leaks.
His comments come after Irish Water confirmed that charging for excessive use would begin next year.
Around 58% of households are metered, but Irish Water said that properties without meters can still be identified.
Minister Eoghan Murphy said that they will have time to repair any leaking pipes.
"Whether it's a fix - first fix free - putting in a metre to actually properly monitor that house, it's easier to make sure it is that house, we can do all these things," he said.
"And we've built in enough time. We are talking about 12 months of monitoring now, and then for a six-month period before any charge would be levied."
Water protesters are threatening to return to the streets if we are charged for excess use.
Plans are in place to make people pay for excessive usage from next year.
But People Before Profit TD Brid Smith says the public will not take it lying down.
She said: "There is going to be a huge controversy about this again and I have no doubt that there will be another series of political, toxic responses once they start issuing bills again.
"It is a ridiculous situation and they left it completely and deliberately ambiguous."
Anti-water charge campaigners are worried that Irish Water will not be able to tell who is to blame for the excess use.
They are afraid that householders could be forced to pay for leaks in the system.
But the utility's managing director Jerry Grant says they will not let that happen.
He said: "The reality is the metre tells you what the demand is and you can follow it up with the householder straight away.
"When there isn't a meter we have other means of doing it, they are more cumbersome and they are more challenging but we will be tracking, tracing and finding excess flows."