Water meter rollout will be delayed until 2016

Water meter rollout will be delayed until 2016

It will be another four years before water meters are fully rolled out in Ireland, according to a 900-page blueprint which maps out the plans to set up Irish Water — the company which will soon charge us for turning on the tap

The blueprint, highlights of which were seen by the Sunday Independent, shows that Irish Water plans to start installing water meters next July — and expects it to take three-and-a-half years to fully roll out the metering scheme across Ireland.

This means it will be late 2016 before water meters are installed in every home with a public water supply — at least two years later than the Environment Minister Phil Hoganoriginally said it would take.

Earlier this year, Mr Hogan said the installation of water meters would begin before the end of 2012 and be completed by 2014.

Irish Water, which will be set up by the State as part of Bord Gais, plans to roll out 1.05 million water meters to Irish homes between July 2013 and late 2016. This would mean an average of 27,000 meters a month, according to the company’s blueprint.

This target may, however, be too ambitious.

In Britain, 10-year targets have been given for the roll-out of one million water meters, according to a spokeswoman for Bord Gais. Irish Water, however, has about a third of the amount of time to roll out a similar number of water meters here.

Bord Gais described the three-and-a-half year target for the rollout of 1.05 million water meters as “achievable”.

Irish Water plans to create 1,000 new jobs when the firm starts to roll out water meters, according to the blueprint.

These jobs are in addition to the 400 call centre jobs announced by Irish Water earlier this month.

Although the Government is yet to make a decision on when exactly water charges will kick in, it is expected that households will start paying water charges from 2014.

As Irish Water doesn’t expect to have completed the rollout of water meters until the end of 2016, this means that some households could be paying water charges even though they have not yet got a meter.

Last month, Bord Gais boss, John Mullins, said that water charges could cost households anything between €100 and €400 a year. Householders are likely to receive their water bills every three months. The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) will regulate and set water charges.

Bord Gais will advertise for senior management positions, including managing director and human resources director, in Irish Water next month. It expects to fill those positions by this spring.

In the next few weeks, Bord Gais will start examining how water is delivered to homes.

This will include a survey of several councils to find out the location of water pipes going into people’s homes.

Irish Water is expected to be fully up and running by the end of 2015. It expects to have a billing system in place by early 2014.