IRISH WATER HAS some trouble replacing lead pipes in homes across the country, with the organization reporting some homeowners are not giving permits for the work to be completed.
The issues were addressed in a recent report from the Water Advisory Panel, which said the difficulties are particularly related to obtaining approval to replace pipework in the backyard, where approval from multiple homeowners may be required.
“MCAS also notes that Irish Water continues to face difficulties in gaining access to shared and backyard services as some homeowners have refused to sign the required consent forms to undertake work on private property,” the report reads .
A spokesman for Irish Water told The Journal that these problems were caused by consent to work not being provided by homeowners, with a reluctance to have a garden dug up being a factor in the failure to give consent.
“In the cases where there is outdated infrastructure in the back gardens/yards of people’s homes, it may be lead and/or leaking/old pipes,” the spokesman said.
“Irish Water and our contractors are making every effort to obtain the appropriate permits to exchange services.
“For garden services that extend over several houses, everyone has to register. It is not uncommon for some residents to only agree with other residents opposing the works.”
Irish Water encouraged people who had lead pipe infrastructure in their home (private lines) to have Irish Water contractors replace it.
The spokesman said approval may not be given by homeowners due to concerns about the cost as households are expected to foot the bill for the works.
However, there is a subsidy program from the Department of Housing to recoup some of the cost of the work, with subsidy scales dependent on household income.
All households earning more than €75,000 per year are excluded from the subsidy.
Currently, according to Irish Water, there are no public water mains in Ireland containing lead and all water leaving treatment plants is lead-free.
No news is bad news
Support the journal
Your contributions help us continue to deliver the stories you care about
Support us now
However, the public body is currently working to replace about 180,000 leading service outlets nationwide, with about 41,000 replaced so far.
According to Irish Water, these pipe connections are common in buildings constructed up to and including the 1970s.
Irish Water has announced that it will replace an additional 54,000 lead fittings between 2022 and 2030, adding that replacing those fittings will not significantly reduce lead levels unless private-sector lead is replaced with households.
The MCAS report also says progress on lead pipe replacements has “slowed significantly” compared to pre-pandemic levels, with Covid-19 restrictions preventing replacements until the third quarter of 2020.