The numbers of staff earning over €100,000 at Irish Water last year increased by 43 from 133 to 176.

That is according to the utility's 2021 annual report which shows that operating profits at Irish Water last year soared by 46% to €382.34 million.

The utility’s 2021 annual report shows that Irish Water recorded the jump in operating profits as the Government subvention to the State owned utility last year increased by 9.5pc from €815 million to €893 million.

The utility’s overall revenues for 2021 rose by 12% from €1.06 billion to €1.19 billion.

The overall income includes commercial revenues totalling €298.08 million made up of non-domestic revenues increasing from €173 million to €198.4 million and revenues from new connections increasing from €73.19 million to €99.6 million.

The State has provided hefty annual subvention to the utility since first suspending domestic water charges in 2016 before formally abolishing them in 2017 after major public opposition against the charges.

The charges were set aside after more than €500 million was spent on installing around 820,000 water meters across the country.

The report shows that 11 of the 176 staff earning over €100,000 received in excess of €175,000 and they include Irish Water MD, Niall Gleeson who received a pay package of €239,000 - the same level as 2020.

This was made up of a basic salary of €200,000, pension contributions of €24,000 and short term employee benefits of €15,000.

The report shows that 13 staff received between €150,000 and €175,000; 28 staff between €125,000 and €150,000 and 124 staff received between €100,000 and €150,000.

Irish Water, which supplies 1.7 billion litres each day of clean, safe drinking water, employs 823 and staff costs last year totalled €81.8 million.

"Irish Water delivered a satisfactory financial performance during 2021, particularly in the context of the challenges associated with COVID-19 and increasing energy costs," the report says.

It adds that "the Government continued to provide necessary capital contributions of €383m, which together with the surplus/profit generated by Irish Water, was invested to fund critical water and wastewater infrastructure projects enabling the delivery of a capital investment programme of €851m in 2021."

After interest costs of €3.4 million and combined non-cash depreciation and amortisation costs of €152.27 million are taken into account, Irish Water last year recorded pre-tax profits of €226.63 million - an 87% increase on 2020's pre-tax profits of €120.68 million.

All surpluses at Irish Water are re-invested to fund critical infrastructure projects.

Operating costs last year increased from €758.49 million to €799.25 million.

In a statement accompanying the report, Mr Gleeson said providing safe, clean, drinking water "is a significant challenge due to decades of under-investment in our water infrastructure, but we are making steady progress."

He said that "with 790,000 people in 16 water supplies removed from the Remedial Action List in the past year. The number of customers nationwide on the List is now at its lowest ever level."

Reporting by Gordon Deegan