IT'S happening... Most homes are set to have water meters installed by next July.
State-owned Bord Gais has advertised for suppliers of one million boundary boxes, which will be sunk into the ground.
The firm is seeking companies to install metering equipment outside properties in preparation for the roll-out of water charges.
The move is a huge step forward in the Government's bid to introduce water charges -- and comes following a number of reports that the metering process had been marred by delays.
The successful contractors will begin fitting the meters from next July and may have all meters fully in place by December 2016.
However, the Government still intends to introduce a flat rate water charge from next year, which is expected to be around €175 per house.
The boundary boxes are scheduled to be attached to the stop-cock point outside the property -- which acts as the valve between the water mains and the pipes supplying individual homes.
The containers are expected to be made of plastic.
A pilot survey to establish the number and location of stopcocks in Fingal, Kerry and Wexford has already begun and is expected to be completed by next Spring.
It's believed that the total value of the contract is worth up to €20m. A number of bidders are expected to compete for the lucrative contract with the final terms being decided by Bord Gais.
The State body put a notice on the Government's e-tenders website seeking multi-party contracts -- meaning that more than one company is likely to be chosen for the job.