Figures on water charges provide only an outline of cost

Analysis: Most homeowners will not be clear on full cost of water until meters are installed

 An Irish Water meter being installed in Maynooth,  Co Kildare.

An Irish Water meter being installed in Maynooth, Co Kildare.


Earlier this year, Taoiseach Enda Kenny tried to pin down the Coalition’s best estimate of what the average metered charged would be and arrived at a figure of €240.

The Government directed that the bills for an average household - which the Government said was 2.7 adults - should come in around that level, with a family of four paying out €248 per year.

The figures were always just a convenience: the definition of an average household varies depending on who you ask, and the notion that everyone would come in around the same level was fanciful.

With the publication of the Commission for Energy Regulation’s consultation on water charges, we now have a better idea of how much we will be paying.

The CER says that across all Irish Water’s customer base, the average will be €238 but also set out a metered rate of €4.88 for 1,000 litres of water - or just under half of one cent per litre for anyone without a septic tank, which is the majority of people in urban areas.

The average person uses about 52,000 litres of water and based on the figures published today, such usage would cost €250 a year, but the free allowances already announced by Government, at 30,000 litres a year, will bring this down.

Children will still get their water for free, even though the litre allowance has gone down from the 38,000 litre allowance initially announced by the Coalition to 21,000, with Irish Water citing new research on how much water children use as a basis for this cut.

However, the assessed charges - what you will pay if your meter hasn’t been installed yet, which is the case for a high number of homes - are higher than the average announced by the Government, especially for those using public water schemes.

Two adults using a combined water supply and wastewater service - i.e. those without septic tanks - will pay €278, rising to €584 for a house with five adults.

However, once meters are installed the bills levied on households will be capped at the assessed charge, to “ease the transition to consumption-based water charges”, according to the CER.

Despite the figures announced by Government, most homeowners will only get an idea of how much they will pay by studying the figures announced today and by measuring their usage once meters are installed.

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