Cabinet to discuss law to allow changes to water usage threshold

Eoghan Murphy's memo will allow future governments to reduce the limit people can use before a levy is introduced

An Irish Water meter. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

An Irish Water meter. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The Government will be able to change the limit for excessive water usage under legislation to be agreed by the Cabinet.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy will bring a so-called “underarm” memo to this morning’s Cabinet meeting, which will allow for the limit agreed by the Oireachtas committee on domestic water charges.

It will allow future governments to reduce the limit people can use before a levy is introduced.

Mr Murphy will allow the Commission for Energy Regulation to determine average consumption levels, setting the threshold level at 1.7 times average household usage. The commission will also agree the financial penalty applied to householders after they reach this limit.

Water usage will be monitored from 2018, and in January 2019 households will receive notification if they are using above the threshold level.

They will have six months to either reduce their usage, apply for an exemption if they have five people or more in the household or utilise the free-fix policy.

In July 2019 they will have to pay for what they use above the threshold.

Average consumption is currently set at 127 cubic metres, with the figure for wilful waste to be 215.9 cubic metres – 1.7 times normal usage.

Citizens’ Assembly

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will ask Cabinet to approve the extension of the Citizens’ Assembly term to March 31st, 2018. The Citizens’ Assembly was due to conclude its work in November 2017.

The extension is due to the complexity of the first topic discussed by the assembly: the Eighth Amendment, which enshrined the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn into the Constitution in 1983.

The assembly has yet to discuss a number of topics, including fixed-term parliaments and the manner in which referendums are held.

The legislative agenda for the next Dáil term will be finalised by Cabinet on Tuesday.

The Law Reform Commission’s annual report will also be brought to Cabinet.