The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has today approved proposals by Irish Water to extend the ‘First Fix’ scheme and to widen the eligibility criteria of water customers who will be able to benefit from the free leakage repair service.
The First Fix Scheme currently provides qualifying domestic customers with a free leak investigation and repair to their External Supply Pipe.
The CRU is of the view that the First Fix Scheme has provided real value when comparing the significant costs associated with delivering water services, and the level of water savings achieved under the scheme. This scheme has reduced the amount of treated water that is needed in Ireland, consequently lowering the overall costs of providing water services.
The Scheme has achieved water savings of a cumulative 155 million litres per day between 2015-2019. This equates to the average usage of 450,000 households every year.
The majority of these water savings were made in the earliest years of the scheme as Irish Water targeted and sought to fix the largest leaks first. The incentive for customers during these first years was also to lower their water usage by fixing any potential leaks in advance of the implementation of direct domestic water charges.
For the Scheme to remain successful in the absence of charges for domestic customers and the postponed introduction of Excess Usage Charges, the CRU has approved Irish Water’s proposal to extend the scheme that will make it available to the vast majority of water users and Irish Water Customers
The changes proposed will offer access to the scheme by customers that were excluded from the original scope. The main change is that you no longer need a water meter to qualify for the Scheme. This change brings an approximate additional 600,000 customers, or about 40% of Irish Water’s customer base, into the scope of the Scheme.
The key changes to the Scheme include:
- Domestic customers with usage above the annual allowance of 213,000 litres will be prioritised for leak investigation;
- Water users will no longer need to be registered with Irish Water;
- Unmetered domestic Irish water customers will now be eligible;
- A customer no longer requires an internal stop valve to be eligible;
- Properties with a Shared Service Connection will now be eligible.
The First Fix scheme is a key project for Irish Water under the conservation theme. This is one of three key policy objectives set out by the Government Water Services Policy Statement 2018–2025. This is highlighted by the increasing water services demand and greater rainfall variability due to climate change.
Commenting on the decision CRU Commissioner with responsibility for water, Dr Paul McGowan, said: “Water conservation is a key part of the strategy to address the resilience of water infrastructure in Ireland. The success of the first fix scheme over the past six years has played an important role in Irish Water’s efforts to promote and facilitate water conservation. Expanding the scheme to other water customers should provide an increased level of engagement with customers, particularly with the planned introduction of charges for excess water usage. This should accelerate leak repair, and so reduce water service costs.”