Truth Comes Dropping Slow


‘Report a Leak’ message Irish Water this Summer: Lawyer and activist Emma Kennedy


Hose to blame?

Lawyer and activist Emma Kennedy, who opposes the Shannon-Dublin water pipeway, writes:

One thing is clear: this isn’t about a lack of water.

Every day Irish Water puts twice as much water into the system as is actually needed – because more water is wasted through leaks than is used by all the households and industry in Ireland put together.

…Far more water is lost through network leakage (Irish Water’s responsibility) than by households, yet the narrative has seen the finger of blame pointing fairly definitively towards the householder.

The implication is of excessive use, of waste. This is misplaced.

People in Ireland use considerably less water per head than the European average. The latest First Fix report shows that once householders are notified about leaks on their properties their response is outstanding

Irish Water has repaired 8 per cent of the leaks identified; householders themselves have repaired 36 per cent, despite no financial incentive to do so.

Household leakage was cut by almost 40 million litres in just two years: the target was 11 million in 39 years. Householders didn’t just meet their leakage target: they smashed it.

In stark contrast, Irish Water is nowhere near meeting its own target. Between 2011 and 2021 it was meant to reduce network leakage from 205 to 166 million litres.

Two-thirds of the way through that window, network leakage is now higher than it was in the first place at 207 million litres.

There you go now.

Mains supply awash with leaks behind Dublin water ‘shortage’ (Emma Kennedy, Irish Times)

32 thoughts on “Truth Comes Dropping Slow

  1. edalicious

    I disagree with the view that IW were blaming households for the shortage of water and that’s why they instated the hosepipe ban. They were saying that there was a shortage of water and so unnecessary use, like filling paddling pools and watering your lawn, should be halted for the duration and so instated the hosepipe ban. You’d have to do some fairly complicated mental gymnastics to get from one to the other. Ms Kennedy appears to be accusing IW of a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy that they never actually made.

    1. Giggidygoo

      No mention of the hosepipe ban in the article.
      IW does try to blame householders for wastage. Hence their attempt of putting an ‘allowance’ onto households.
      Yet it is IW itself that accounts for most wastage.

      1. b

        IW should put out a statement taking full responsibility for water shortages and telling people to make sure they’re grass is as green as possible on they’re lawn in this difficult time

        that would be better wouldn’t it?

      2. edalicious

        The hosepipe ban is alluded to in the first and last paragraph of the article and I’m struggling to see any way, other than the hosepipe ban, that IW have implied that it was excess use by the public that caused the water shortages during the drought. I don’t disagree that the blame for recent shortages falls entirely on IW but to suggest that there should be no accountability placed on the public to conserve a valuable resource until IW have fixed all the leaks is ridiculous.

  2. Baffled

    Baffled at Kennedy’s claim that the householders notified of leaks who paid for their own repairs did so “despite no financial incentive to do so”. For the vast majority of people their home is their largest asset so taking proactive steps to prevent water damage is a financially sensible way to uphold the value of that asset.

  3. Rob_G

    I agree that it would be better if IW could fix all the leaks in the network – however, this would involve searching thousands of kilometres of pipes to find the leaks. For households, it is much easier – you consult the water metre, if the usage looks unusually high, or it still clocking usage when the house is empty, there is a leak.
    Fixing just one leak in one household can save millions of litres of water per year; I think it understandable that the service would go for the low-hanging fruit first, rather than spend billions digging on the off-chance of finding a leak.

    1. Dr.Fart MD

      amazing. absolute guess work out of ya, but you say it so confidently like you presume your guesses must be correct. And how you think metering is a good system is beyond me. Finding leaks is easy, they have v small drone like devices that go through the pipes and they detect where there’s a leak, by analysing where pressure drops or water flow is disrupted. they don’t go around digging up fields and guessing. Yet off ya go with your b****hit comment talking about spending billions on digging. there’s no getting around, or defending the fact that metering was a huge waste of time and money, and was only in place to charge people, and that all the money wasted on !W we’d have fixed our water system.

      1. Baffled

        “Finding leaks is easy, they have v small drone like devices that go through the pipes and they detect where there’s a leak, by analysing where pressure drops or water flow is disrupted”

        Can you show us where Irish Water do this please?

        1. Dr.Fart MD

          they don’t. other countries do. we are behind. we don’t have water service that functions like others. other countries water services actually work on the water system. ours was only set up to collect bills.

          1. Tim Pot

            Stick a drone up a 1″ supply pipe do they? Analyse water pressures and flow without water meters do they?

            Nonsense is what you are talking about…

  4. Baffled

    Also, regarding the claim that “every day Irish Water puts twice as much water into the system as is actually needed”. The Commission for Regulation of Utilities’ latest assessment of Irish Water’s performance (see page 39 of this: shows that leakage rates have improved to 45% from 49% in 2014 (Irish Water was established in H2 2013). It seems reasonable to assume that pace of improvement in the leakage rate will accelerate thanks to the ongoing roll-out of metering, which helps to pin-point where the water is lost.

    I happen to be sympathetic to Kennedy’s view that the Shannon scheme is unnecessary, by the way, but in order to avoid the cost of that we are going to have to adopt a more mature attitude to meters. Those opposed to their roll-out are environmental vandals.

    1. Dr.Fart MD

      a mature attitude to metering? if you were in front of me now i’d slap you across the face. the meters were never necessary and were an extra bill for an already stretched public who lost so much in the recession and never got anything back despite reports of economy booming. we got hit with another made-up charge and had had enough. it’s brilliant that the irish people stood up for ourselves and said ‘no more’ .. apart from you, who thought it was immature to oppose this insulting charge.

      1. Rob_G

        “f you were in front of me now i’d slap you across the face.”

        – ooooh I daresay you’re scared, Baffled.

  5. dav

    if there ever was a charge of an “operation fear” this latest crap from IW is it. blaming people for using the hose as the reason their reservoirs are running dry. Having muppets giving out about professional window washers or car washes? jesus wept

    1. Rep

      IW blamed the weather and the lack of rain. Unless you can correct me and show something official, they never blamed people, just asked them to not waste water as there is not a lot of it. Only idiots have decided that they did.

  6. Rep

    IW are laying new pipes currently in D7 so they are working on fixing the issue. The fact that there are leaks in hardly a newly uncovered truth. Everybody knows. It takes time to fix.

    As for the fixing of leaks, of course they are going to fix the leaks if they could possibly damage their house. There was a massive leak under our (rented) house that go fixed by the landlord. If that wasn’t fixed, it could have gone on to damage the foundations, if it has not already. If I had paid a lot of money for the house, I’d want to make steps to ensure it wasn’t going to fall down

  7. b

    Here we go again. some really have difficulty with reality, it hasn’t rained in a month so reserves are low. Yes there are alot of leaks in the system but it’s not very useful asking the pipes to stop leaking for a while as it’s sunny

    Asking people to be sensible with water conservation is completely reasonable. Only those with nothing better to do than re-litigate the water charges debate seem to be offended by this.

  8. damien

    I agree but up to a point
    I would say IW are also using this to ensure everyone compliently pay water charges
    We should also ask have they actually started a massive pipe replacement project or are they actually dragging their heels deliberately just to ensure water charges are firstly paid before starting a very slow pipe replacement programme?
    For the life of me I have not seen signs of this
    Has anyone else
    Meanwhile millions of gallons of treated water seeps into the ground each hour

      1. damien

        You wanna bet
        By the time the draught is blamed on no water charges it will be top of the agenda again

    1. rotide

      Thanks, you’ve reminded me that I need to go to the bookies and bet on Portugal to win Euro 2016

  9. andy

    “In stark contrast, Irish Water is nowhere near meeting its own target. Between 2011 and 2021 it was meant to reduce network leakage from 205 to 166 million litres.”

    Huh? Irish water was only established in 2013.

    The hose pipe ban did not apportion any blame on the householder. It simply aimed to reduce demand because supply was reducing.

    This lady has an agenda (perhaps well founded) but at the end of the day she is opposed to the Shannon Dublin pipe and everything she writes is designed to scupper that idea regardless of merits or counter arguments.

    Pinch of salt required

    1. Cú Chulainn

      That pipeline is a pipe dream.. total nonsense.. what’s needed is a new, big reservoir.. all the rest is nothing more than scaremongering.. a sneaky way to put charges back on the table..

  10. Kennedy Analysis Team

    On some of these comments:

    Fair point about some leaks damaging the property – but what is deemed a “leak” includes many that wouldn’t, for example a toilet that is constantly flowing water and leaks from the supply pipes under peoples’ gardens which would often not cause any damage per se. The point about there being no financial incentive to fix household leaks relates to the fact that in other jurisdictions there ARE financial incentives for the householder to fix their own leaks – and indeed this was something that the CER considered when it first contemplated the terms of the First Fix Free scheme. Difficult in a word-constrained article to give the entire background for some of the points….

    The other point we wanted to address was the leakage target – yes, the window is from 2011-2021 and Irish Water was not set up until after 2011 – but the target was set BY Irish Water itself in 2015, looking retrospectively back at the leakage level in 2011. So the setting of the target was by IW, for IW and very much on their watch.

    Kennedy Analysis

  11. Tim Pot

    1. Leakage is 45% nationally and globally it becomes uneconomical to reduce leakage beyond ~20%. Therefore IW puts 25% as much water into the system as is actually needed, (Not 50%)
    2. IW has been fixing network leakage since it was founded, and the LA’s were doing it before them. Why would IW spend time on a PR campaign to tell itself to fix network pipes?
    3. Ireland’s rate of water consumption per household is average for Europe, not less and not more. 110litres per day.
    4. 26,000 leaks were found with no small help to the domestic water meters that were installed by IW.
    5. …again, 26,000 leaks were found with no small help to the domestic water meters that were installed by IW.
    6. IW did not exist before 2013/2014, however according to their 2014-2021 business plan the aim was to have leakage at 45% in 2017. In 2017 network leakage was at…. 45%.

Comments are closed.