Households will not learn extent of water charges until August

Fees to be revealed after local and European elections in May, committee told

 Irish Water  meter installation.   Photograph: Colm Mahady / Fennells

Irish Water meter installation. Photograph: Colm Mahady / Fennells


Regulators will set water charges in August, meaning consumers will not know how much they will have to pay for water until after local and European elections in May.

At a hearing today of the Oireachtas environment committee, energy regulator Paul McGowan said tariffs will be set in August by the Commission for Energy Regulation following its consideration of cost submissions from Irish Water.

For its part, Irish Water has told the committee that it will make an interim price control submission to the regulator “in a few weeks”. This will be followed next month by submissions on the tariff structure and connection charge structure. A water charges plan submission will be made in June, it said.

In its submission to the committee, Irish Water said it has already installed more than 115,000 meters and was meeting a monthly installations target of 27,000 per month. The organisation reported “less than 2 per cent customer complaints”.

It added the metering project had uncovered badly corroded service connections which were leaking heavily and said this provided an opportunity confront the problem in partnership with local authorities.

However, Sinn Féin environment spokesman Brian Stanley said after the committee hearing that it was not clear who would pay for the leakages.

“This has imposed a cost on the local authorities concerned, despite an assurance from Irish Water that the private contractors concerned would be liable for repairs caused by the installation of meters,” Mr Stanley said.

“By my estimation, if the level of leaks caused so far is replicated across the state we will be looking at a final bill for repairs of between €18 and €20 million.”

Irish Water also said it was making major progress in its objective to elimination of boil water notices within 12 months.

Following controversy over the provision for “bonus” payments in the pay structure of Irish Water, the organistaion said a portion of salary was deliberately set “at risk” in its pay system.

“In other words, if targets are not hit, the person loses out on that segment of their salary. This new approach has been pioneered by Bord Gáis and sees each salary broken into two parts: a base pay level; a performance related element which is ‘at risk’.”

The total of the two elements would add up to the “external market pay level” for any given job, Irish Water said. It said the model would drive efficiencies, provide for a pay freeze, eliminate increments and require pay ranges to be externally benchmarked.