No water levy until meters installed, says Hogan


MINISTER FOR the Environment Phil Hogan said yesterday there would be no introduction of domestic water charges until a metering system has been put in place for all homes.

Last week, Mr Hogan said he intended to introduce a household utility charge in 2012 for all 1.8 million homes in the State but yesterday he insisted the issue of water charges had not been considered at Cabinet and he had no plans to introduce a flat water charge. “I didn’t announce any flat charge – some people in the media decided that we are going to introduce a flat charge.

“The Government hasn’t discussed it and, as far as I’m concerned, what’s in the programme for government is water charges by meter,” he said.

Speaking during a visit to Co Cork where he officially opened water and sewerage schemes in Bantry and Kinsale, Mr Hogan said the Government would find a mechanism to fund a water metering installation programme but water charges would not come into place until then.

He said the system would involve a free annual allowance to householders based on a certain annual usage but any usage above that would involve a charge as it was important that people realise what a finite resource water is and that it needs to be conserved.

“Water is a finite resource and we need water conservation measures to be put in place and we are going to use the water metering system to concentrate people’s minds that you cannot continue to abuse the water resource that we have,” he said.

The Government would also seek to encourage homeowners to harvest their own rainfall and measures would be included in today’s jobs announcement which would assist people in equipping their homes to harness rainfall, he added.

Last week, Mr Hogan’s comments regarding a utility charge prompted Labour TD Ciarán Lynch to say that a flat water rate was far from ideal but that if it was to become a reality, then a waiver system should be put in place for those who are unable to pay.

“A flat rate charge offers no incentive whatsoever to be economical with water use,” he said.