Water meter plan may be delayed to 2016
PLANS TO start installing domestic water meters by the end this year are looking increasingly remote because of a lack of information on the location of household water supply points.
Water meters cannot be installed until the location and number of household stopcocks has been determined. Tenders for the supply of meters have yet to be advertised.
Senior water industry sources now say it would be inconceivable that universal metering could be in place by 2014, the date by which the Government has committed to charging for water. The sources say it will now be 2016, at the earliest, before national metering could be achieved.
In addition, they warn the upfront installation of meters by the Government target date of 2014, would be prohibitively expensive and could result in households being charged more than if a flat charge were used initially.
Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said last April the installation of water metres would begin before the end of this year and would be completed by 2014.The Government has also said it will not charge for water until meters have been installed nationally.
A pilot survey to establish the number and location of stopcocks in three local authority areas is set to begin in October.
Fingal, Kerry and Wexford are understood to be the first counties to be surveyed in an attempt to establish how many stopcocks, which are located underground, generally just outside property boundaries, are serving homes across the State.
The pilot surveys alone are likely to take several months to complete. It is not known when the remaining 30 local authorities will begin assessing the location of their stopcocks.
One senior figure in the local authority water sector said it would take about four to six months to conduct the pilot surveys.
“I can’t see how there’ll be meters in the ground on a national basis in 2014,” the source added. “If everything went extremely smoothly in the procurement process they could be finished in Spring 2016, but that would be a best case scenario.”