Half of applicants for Irish Water’s ‘first fix free’ offer withdraw before leak fixed
Four years, 81,000 applications, 43,330 withdrawals and 15,997 repairs carried out
Under the ‘first fix free’ scheme, Irish Water offers to repair leaking water pipes on a householder’s property without charge.
More than half of those who applied for the “first fix free” scheme from Irish Water dropped out of the programme without having leaks fixed by the utility, recently released figures show.
Under the “first fix free” scheme, Irish Water offers to repair leaking water pipes on a householder’s property without charge. Such repairs would have normally been the responsibility of the householder.
The Government set aside €51 million for the scheme, which received approval from the Commission for Regulation of Utilities in August 2015.
However, while 81,476 householders initially engaged with Irish Water, in the following four years, some 43,330 left the scheme without having had leaks fixed.
Under the scheme, Irish Water fixed leaks without charge in 15,997 properties by the end of last year, or about 4,000 homes a year.
The figures were released by Irish Water under legislation on access to information on the environment.
Irish Water noted there was a range of reasons for people leaving the scheme, the most prevalent, covering more than 28,000 applications, being that the water leak was inside the householder’s building, which is not covered by the scheme. Other reasons include the property not having an “inside stop valve” which Irish Water said was a key requirement of the scheme.
Further reasons for homeowners disengaging were that the property had shared water services with another property which made them ineligible; the customer failed to engage further; or the utility discovered no leak.
Irish Water said the length of time required to carry out an assessment was up to 10 business days, with an average of two months to effect a free fix.
In its most recent quarterly report to the Commission for Energy Regulation published online and covering the last four months of 2018, Irish Water said it relied on a “constant flow alarm” when the meter records a flow of at least six litres an hour over a 48-hour period. It then issues a letter to the customer indicating a potential leak.
The authority also said “customers with a visible leak on their property can also contact Irish Water to avail of a free leak investigation”.
The quarterly report added: “Following the findings of the Joint Oireachtas Committee in 2017, Irish Water is engaging with the Commission for Regulation of Utilities to assess how the benefits of the first fix policy can be further applied to leaks on the customer side of unmetered properties.”