Householders could be liable for leaking pipes

Wed, Nov 7, 2012, 00:00

Householders could have to pay for leaking or damaged water pipes found on their property by the new utility company that the Government is set to establish next year, an Oireachtas committee heard yesterday.

John Mullins, chief executive of Bord Gáis, which has taken responsibility for setting up Irish Water, said yesterday that once supplies to households are metered, it would be possible to identify the source of “serious” leaks.

He explained to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht that it would be normal industry practice to regard anything “downstream” of the stopcock – where supplies to individual customers intersect with the mains – as the property of the householder. He indicated that this could result in householders having to pay for the repair of any serious leaks in water supply pipes regarded as their property.

However, Mr Mullins pointed out that the State already provides grants to householders who want to insulate their homes and take other steps to cut energy use. He suggested that the Government could introduce a similar scheme for domestic water supplies.

The Government is due to introduce the founding legislation for Irish Water next year. The company will be established as a subsidiary of Bord Gáis. It will begin to charge for domestic water supplies from 2014. Initially, it will install meters for 1.05 million homes.