Water, water jobs everywhere

Cantillon: There is a valid point being made by those who claim we are discharging one debt by incurring another

The estimated cost of installing a water meter in each Irish household is expected to be €500. Photograph: Bloomberg

The estimated cost of installing a water meter in each Irish household is expected to be €500. Photograph: Bloomberg

 

The creation of 1,600 jobs by Irish Water as part of the metering programme seems on paper to be an expensive way to create employment.

Yes, any job announcement of this scale in the current climate is good news, but there is a valid point being made by opponents who claim we are merely discharging one debt by incurring another.

On the plus side are the 1,000-plus jobs created as a result of the water metering, with a certain proportion of the positions earmarked for those on the Live Register.

On the flip side, though, householders will be faced with the added burden of water charges on top of the property tax, bin charges and other levies.

While there are still no official figures on how much it is likely to cost, informed sources suggest the average household will pay between €100 and €300 a year.

In addition, no matter how little water you use, householders face paying for the installation of water meters over time in the face of a standing fee, similar to that in place for electricity.

The estimated cost of installing a water meter in each household is expected to be €500.

Furthermore, Irish Water will seek to borrow tens of millions of euro against its water and waste-water treatments plants as the new organisation prepares to invest heavily in water infrastructure.

The State will invest some €328 million in water infrastructure this year, but Irish Water has already identified an annual need for about €600 million a year over the next decade.

So all in all, while jobs will be created, it seems we will pay dearly for them.

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