Irish water charges cheapest in Europe under revised package

Capped charges mean average cost per litre will fall well below European average

 

The Government’s scramble to reduce water charges and increase allowances means households will end up paying the cheapest water rates in Europe.

Figures compiled by Global Water Intelligence, an Oxford-based company, indicate the new water charges regime will place Ireland at the bottom of the EU’s water charges table, when measured on average water use.

This is because the vast majority of European countries charge on the basis of metered use of water only, rather than flat-rate charges.

Officially, the cost of water per 1,000 litres in Ireland will be €3.70.

But when allowances and the caps are included for a family of four using an average supply of water, it works out at €0.89 for every 1,000 litres - or cubic metre - of water.

This is well below EU countries with relatively high water charges such as Denmark (€6.33), Luxembourg (€4.65), Germany (€4.40), Netherlands (€4.28), Belgium (€4.10) and Norway(€3.97).

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It is also less than countries with some of the cheapest charges in Europe such as Romania(€1.59), Latvia (€1.55), Italy (€1.38) and Greece (€1.35).

The only country which comes close to Ireland’s water charges regime is Bulgaria (€0.90).

Global Water Intelligence’s figures are based on a family of four using an average of 15,000 litres of water a month - or 180,000 litres in a year - of combined water and wastewater.

The amounts are averaged on a selection of major cities in each country and are inclusive of taxes. The currency conversion figures were correct as of July 1st, 2014.

The scale of the gap between water charges in Ireland and elsewhere, is likely to raise fresh questions about whether Irish Water will have sufficient funds to upgrade the country’s creaking water infrastructure.

When the water charges are measured against average after-tax incomes, figures also show the Irish regime will be the most affordable in Europe.

The price for one cubic metre of water will account for 0.005 per cent of the average annual income in Ireland.

Water charges are almost twice as expensive - in relative terms - in Switzerland and Italy, while they are four times more expensive in the UK.

Water charges devour the biggest bulk of incomes in Romania, Poland and Croatia when measured against average incomes in those countries.