The Chief Executive of Bord Gáis has given an undertaking that the country's new water utility company will provide a world class system, warning that the task ahead is great but achievable.

Speaking to the Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht, John Mullins said that Uisce Éireann has an ambitious programme ahead.

He said it faces many challenges to provide a top-class service to industrial, commercial and domestic users.

Mr Mullins said there would have to be an agreement reached with local authority workers who currently run the water system but added that this is in hand with a committee being chaired by Kevin Foley of the Labour Relations Commission.

He went to say that there is 41% leakage in the country’s national water system.

Earlier Mr Mullins said it was "unlikely" that domestic customers who do not pay their water charges will be cut off.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Mr Mullins said: "The reality is water is absolutely an essential service, clearly the job Irish water has is to entice people to pay their bills, in accordance with the law of the land."

He added that water is "an absolute essential for living, particularly when you consider you have young children in households".

He said the billing system will be in place by January 2014.

The Government has yet to make a decision on when exactly water charges will be introduced.

Over one million water meters will be rolled out to households between July 2013 and late 2016.