Water is one of Ireland’s most valuable resources. Only 2.5% of the earth’s water is fresh water and, of that, less than 1% is accessible for use by humans. 1.6 billion litres of drinking water is produced every day in Ireland and delivered to communities through approximately 60,000 kilometres of pipelines. Currently almost half of treated water is lost through leaks from both customer properties and the distribution network. We can all save a significant amount of water by making small changes to the way we use water in our homes and by repairing leaks. By doing this we will contribute to building a sustainable water supply for all.
Water is one of our most valuable resources. However, clean water is expensive to both produce and manage and one of Irish Water’s priorities is to reduce water wasted through leakage.
Irish Water is committed to improving the way it supplies water to homes across Ireland by repairing leaks. The national installation of water meters provides Irish Water with important information which allows it to identify properties that may have a leak. If your water meter indicates a leak at your property, you will be notified of this. Repairing leaks will save water and money, in both the short and long term, and will help to secure a sustainable water supply to Irish Water customers.
By working closely with its customers Irish Water has identified that a high proportion of leaks are caused by internal plumbing issues. Repairing a leak can help to prevent reduced water pressure or supply interruptions affecting homes.
How to check your home for an internal plumbing issue
You can complete the suggested checks to determine if an internal plumbing issue or leak may explain a higher than normal water meter reading.
- Check the toilet; Is there a constant sound of water running from any of your toilet cisterns?
- Check the water storage tank; Can you hear the water storage tank refilling when water-consuming appliances are not in use? It may be easier to hear this at night.
- Check all taps; Check all your household and external garden taps for drips.
- Check water-consuming appliances e.g. washing machine and dishwasher, for plumbing issues such as dripping joints.
First Fix Free Scheme
Irish Water’s First Fix Free Scheme offers customers a free leak investigation on their external supply pipe and the repair of identified leaks. First Fix Free is available to domestic customers with a water meter installed for their property, who have registered with Irish Water and who have a working and accessible inside stop valve.
Customers will be notified by Irish Water when their meter indicates a potential leak.
Report a leak
You can report a water leak on public property in your area through the Irish Water website online form. This includes footpaths, roads, communal open spaces and public recreational facilities.
If you have a water leak on your property, you can view the Irish Water website with details on pipe maintenance responsibility to find out who is responsible for fixing it. If you need more information about leaks on your property please call Irish Water on 1890 278 278.
Please note that standard leak reports are monitored from 8am – 8pm, Monday to Sunday.
If you are concerned about a major burst or have a water supply emergency, please contact Irish Water immediately on 1890 278 278. Irish Water lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Winter Proofing - Protect your home this winter
When temperatures drop below zero, dripping taps and unprotected pipes can freeze, crack and reduce the supply of water to your home. The cracked pipes can leak or burst when temperatures rise, resulting in damage to your home which can be costly to repair.
Insulate water tanks and pipes
Ensure that the sides of the water tank in the attic are wrapped in insulation and cover pipes with insulating material to protect them from cold weather.
Locate the stop tap
The internal stop tap to turn off the water supply is usually located on the ground floor, under a kitchen or bathroom sink. Ensure you can reach the stop tap and turn it off easily should a leak occur.
Ensure any gaps under doors and around windows are covered or sealed. Cold air coming from outside can cause pipes to freeze inside the home.
Fix external dripping taps
Irish Water recommend you always fix any dripping tap, but pay particular attention to external dripping taps in winter as water from them can freeze on the ground and can cause people to slip and injure themselves.
Leave your heating on while away
If you are going away or your home is going to be unoccupied, leave your heating on a timer on a low-level setting to warm the home and prevent pipes from freezing.
Circulate warm air
Opening doors to unheated areas of your home occasionally to allow warm air to circulate can prevent pipes and tanks from freezing in the cold weather.
Ensure the boiler is serviced
The boiler is required to heat your home and needs to run efficiently to do so. Leaks or drips from the boiler could freeze and result in costly repairs, so ensure it’s serviced by an accredited plumber.
Have a supply of fresh drinking water
Ensure you have a separate supply of fresh drinking water available in your home should a water pipe freeze or burst in very cold weather.
Visit Winter-Ready website for more helpful tips on protecting your home in winter.
Be Smart Tips
Tips for using water responsibly in the household
In the Kitchen
- Don't run your washing machine and dishwasher until they are full.
- Only fill your kettle with as much water as you need - you'll also save on your electricity bill.
- Use a basin. It’s useful for washing dishes by hand or collecting the water you use to rinse fruit and vegetables – which can then be used for watering plants.
- Keep a jug of water in the fridge instead of running the tap to make the water cool to drink.
- Check for any leaks in your kitchen.
In the Bathroom
- Use the shower instead of soaking in the bath.
- Spend less time in the shower (use an in-shower timer for children and young adults).
- Flush the toilet only when necessary - depending on your cistern's age and size one flush can use up to 9 litres of water.
- Consider adding a displacement device to your cistern to reduce the amount of water used.
- Turn the tap off when brushing your teeth, shaving or washing your face.
In the Garden
- Collect rainwater to use in your garden instead of using drinking water from the tap.
- Use a rose head watering can instead of a hose to water your plants.
- Avoid watering your lawn – grass can survive long dry spells and recovers quickly with the next rainfall.
- Use a bucket and sponge to wash your car or windows instead of a hose.
- Regularly check your outdoor taps, pipes and plumbing fixtures for leaks.
The video below, ‘From Cloud To Glass’, explains the drinking water treatment process:
Water in the Community
Think Before You Flush
Think Before You Flush is a public awareness campaign about the problem sanitary products and other items can cause in our marine environment and our wastewater systems if they are flushed down the toilet. The campaign is operated by An Taisce’s Clean Coasts programme and is supported by Irish Water. The Think Before You Flush campaign invites people to make small changes in their bathroom behaviour like never using the toilet to dispose of sanitary products.
For more information and to support the campaign
Visit the Think Before You Flush website.
Watch Irish Water's ‘Drain to Sea’ video which explains the wastewater treatment process:
Irish Water is the sole sponsor of the Water Theme of the Green-Schools programme run by An Taisce. The Water Theme engages with more than 1,000 schools during each academic year and it aims to educate students about the value of water and water conservation. On average schools participating in the Water Theme of Green-Schools reduce their water consumption by 38%.
Irish Water sponsors a Special Award, the Value Water Award, as part of the annual TidyTowns competition. The award aims to raise awareness among communities about the importance of using water responsibility and managing water sustainably in their locality.
Drinking Water Quality
Safe and reliable water supplies are essential to public health and to social and economic progress. However, water sources can often become contaminated due to factors such as farming or commercial runoff, as well as adverse weather conditions. Drinking water is therefore treated to a high standard before it is distributed through an extensive network of water mains to households and businesses.
Irish Water provides drinking water quality information here. In this section of the Irish Water website, you can search for your Water Supply Zone to access drinking water quality information in your area.