Water charge options: Which do you prefer?
Oireachtas water committee is examining a number of options on metering, refunds etc
O’ Connell Street Right 2 Water protests at the start of 2016. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
The Oireachtas committee on water is being asked to examine a number of options in the area of domestic water services.
Here are the proposals on; Excessive usage:
1: Those who waste water or use excessive volumes of water (except for those who, for medical or other reasons, might have an exceptional water usage requirement) be penalised. The committee give the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) scope to determine normal and excessive usage.
2: An excessive water usage charge be imposed under the polluter pays principle.
3: Excessive use of water is covered in the Water Services Act 2007. Section 53 (c) of this Act outlines that those who wilfully abuse water can be prosecuted and fined up to €5,000. This Act should be strengthened or amended to ensure that those who abuse water are penalised.
1: Irish Water prioritise investment to ensure that district metering is comprehensive and utilises the most effective technology available, ie that it operates effectively in support of meeting the leakage reduction targets agreed with CER.
2: Part of the €148 million underspend on metering to date should be set aside for the roll out of improvements to the district metering programme to help detect leaks and improve the network.
3: Domestic meters already installed should remain in place.
4: The installation of domestic water metering should stop and district metering should be rolled out.
5: Metering should continue subject to the approval of the CER following appropriate cost benefit analysis and consideration of the costs.
1: In respect of those householders who have paid some or all of the domestic water charges, they be compensated in an equitable manner.
2: Those who have already paid their Irish Water bills be repaid and options such as tax deductions, direct payments, water conservation devices and others are examined.
3: Full refunds must be awarded to those who have paid domestic charges to Irish Water.
4: Refunds of water charges paid to date should be issued via the Revenue Commission once proof of payment is provided. This should be cross referenced with Department of Social Protection water conservation grant payments information to ensure there is no over payment.
5: Non-compliant households should be pursued in line with the legislative framework currently in place.
Group water schemes:
1: Subsidy for group water schemes should be increased to cover the cost of all domestic water supplied by the sector.
2: Annual subvention is increased to cover full annual standing charge.
3: Current levels of subsidisation for group water schemes and supports for capital spending and private wells are maintained.