The County and City Managers' Association has told the Environment Committee that funding across water services has been playing "catch-up".
Cavan County Manager Jack Keyes also said there was a €453m deficit in relation to current expenditure.
He said that in relation to capital investment, councils have had to borrow huge amounts of money to fund capital investment.
The Cavan County Manager said this had been previously funded by development levies.
He said they have to come up with maybe a 40% share of capital cost.
Mr Keyes told the committee there had been major increases in the cost of water provision.
On water leakage, he said there is leakage of up to 41% in Ireland, which he said was very high by European standards.
Jerry Grant of Engineers Ireland told the committee that "large chunks of our water-provision infrastructure" is Victorian and that high levels of leakage was a problem.
Mr Grant said there was a "deficit" of water quality in much new development.
He said this was largely as a result of a decision to let developers "self-certify" their work as it relates to water systems.
He told the committee that a "20-year view" is absolutely necessary when it comes to water planning.