Some 40% of water produced by local authorities is being lost to leaks in nearly two-thirds of Ireland.
In Kerry County Council nearly 60% of water was “unaccounted for” in 2010, according to recent service indicators in local authorities figures.
In Cork city, 55% of water is lost to leaks. In Limerick city, the figure is 57.85%.
In Galway city, where drinking water was off-limits for five months in 2007 due to a cryptosporidium outbreak, 51% of water produced can be accounted for. Meanwhile, in Galway county, there is little improvement, with 47% of water accounted for.
The leakage rates come in spite of €208m investment in the sector since 2003.
According to the Department of the Environment, the Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012 allows for “a significant acceleration in the level of investment, providing for contracts of some €321 million”.
In Co Cork, 49.5% of water treated by the local authority was unaccounted for in 2010. Cork City Council blamed its high leakage rate on the particularly cold weather that winter.
South Dublin County Council has the lowest leakage rate in the country, with 20% of water escaping. In Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown, that figure stood at 28.5%.
The age of the water network, the effects of increa-sed vehicles overhead, infer-ior connections, pressure on the network and reactive leakage control policies have all been blamed for the high leakage rates by the Department of the Environment.
The 2010 service indicators report noted that the “unusually cold conditions” caused a large number of breaks and leaks and that the timing of these added to the loss, as schools and business premises were not attended to as quickly as normal.
Kerry County Council also attributed their high leakage rates to the sub-zero conditions, saying householders left taps running overnight and unoccupied premises developed leaks which were not attended for long periods.
According to the Department of the Environment, the minister has been highly critical of the high volume of treated water going to waste and stressed the need for local authorities to take more concerted action.
Cork County Council are installing meters in some 500 district meter areas. These will show where water is being lost and allow the authority to better target their leak detection, and repair and facilitate the identification of mains requiring rehabilitation/replacement.