Meters detect 30,000 leaks as homes lose 46 million litres a day
Irish WATER has fixed just 500 leaks out of 30,000 it has identified in the first reading of meters.
The utility said 46 million litres of water are being wasted every day - the equivalent of 18 Olympic size swimming pools.
Jerry Grant, head of asset management at Irish Water, said it now intends to roll out an interim project spend of €3.4m to tackle leaks.
It also has a proposal with the regulator to spend up to €51m to cater for 25,000 leaks this year and next year and into 2017 depending on the speed at which customers come back to them.
It says 60pc of leaks are happening within people's homes, and Irish Water will be sending notices to customers where leaks have been identified.
Where those leaks are outside the walls of the property, Irish Water will cover the cost of the fix, but where they are inside a house it will be up to the customer to get the problem sorted out.
However, Irish Water will help customers identify the leaks and offer them advice.
"We have already fixed 500 leaks in a pilot project that we carried out over the last couple of months.
"That allowed us to get a lot of positive experience in the types of leaks involved and the logistics of the scheme," said Mr Grant on Newstalk this morning.
While the average home uses around 110,000 litres a year, meters showed that more than 1,000 homes were found to have suspected leaks of more than one million litres a year.
"The 30,000 leaks have shown up about 46 million litres of water per day, enough to supply Limerick city and the environs of Limerick," said Mr Grant.
"If we can fix 40 to 50pc of those leaks we should recover 20 or 25 million litres per day from that source' so this is a very quick win for us," he added.
Around 600,000 meters have already been installed with around 400,000 still to be installed.
The three most common leaks inside a house are at the ballcock in the attic tank, in a toilet which continues to have an audible water flow long after it has been flushed, and a dripping tap, said Mr Grant.
Faulty toilet cisterns account for half of all internal leaks, and can lose as much as a constantly running tap.
Mr Grant sensors on water meters can detect if there is a constant night flow of water, which can indicate a leak, and the next step is to identify where that leak is.
"This is the benefit of the meters, they help the customer and they help Irish Water. It is the first real dividend from them," he said.