Evidence from the UK suggests that installing water meters will reduce consumption by around 10%. If the pattern were to be repeated here, then this reduction can be expected sometime after 2015, as the meters will not start to be installed until 2014. Given that the government is going to take €500m from the Nation Pension Reserve Fund to fund the installation of meters (Sunday Indo, 22 April), this seems an expensive way of reducing water use. But installing water meters will not reduce the leak rate in the public supply (Ireland: 43%, UK: 22% – see one of my previous blogs).
It would be interesting to know whether there would be a better return from first reducing the leakage rate to those of our neighbours. Spending €500m now fixing leaks and replacing mains would give an immediate saving. The money could still be borrowed from the Nation Pension Reserve Fund and paid back by the savings made by the water utilities. However, it could be that the installation of water meters is just to satisfy a political need not an economic need.