Laws will need to be changed to allow for water wastage fines

Sinn Féin and Solidarity likely to oppose water meter programme for new buildings

Existing legislation will need to be amended to bring in fines for householders who waste water if the State is to avoid breaching European laws, the Oireachtas committee considering the future of water charges will be told on Tuesday.

The committee, which meets later to consider its final report, is to hear legal opinion stating that the 2007 Water Services Act must be radically overhauled to meet the requirements of the European Water Framework Directive.

The directive insists on a system being in place to allow for the recovery of costs for the provision of water services and breaches of it can result in member states being fined.

The Irish Times understands the legal advice will also stress that other pieces of legislation law may have to be altered to avoid contradictions in law.


A majority on the committee is also expected to support a proposal to install meters in every new build across the country. However, some members including Sinn Féin and Solidarity are likely to oppose to any metering programme.

The advice of a senior counsel was requested by the committee as it attempted to find a consensus on the issue of water charges, which were temporarily suspended after last year’s election.

Excessive use

Fianna Fáil said it would not support a levy for excessive use but would back provisions under the existing legislation, which would fine those who abuse water. Fine Gael insisted this would not meet European law and requested the independent legal opinion. It appears both parties now agree the 2007 Act can be the basis for a deal.

Fine Gael is requesting the legislation is changed to remove the threat of court action and a reduction in water supply. It is understood Minister for Housing Simon Coveney and Fianna Fáil's Barry Cowen were in contact on the issue over the weekend.

The 20-member committee, under the chairmanship of Independent Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh, is expected to complete its work by April 14th.