Water charge would cost more to run than it could raise, Sinn Féin says

Commission for Regulation of Utilities to make decision soon on Irish Water plan

Sinn Féin has criticised an Irish Water plan that would see up to 70,000 households deemed to be excessively using water face charges of up to €500 from next year if it gets the go-ahead.

The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities is due to make a decision by the end of this month on the proposal.

Irish Water wants to charge €1.85 for every 1,000 litres used above a threshold of 213,000 litres per year, with the charge capped at €250. A similar charge for wastewater services is proposed, again with a cap of €250. A residence that uses both fresh water, and wastewater, services would be liable for a charge of up to €500.

Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin said it would cost Irish Water more to administer the scheme and pursue the charge than will be taken in by it.


“The Government should not proceed with this. There is no evidence that people are willfully wasting water,” he said. “We do have a significant number of properties, many of which are old properties and which are in rural areas which have leaks and which the Government should focus on helping.

“I also have a concern that one of the consequences of the charge for so-called excessive use is that it does put in place architecture for the future re-introduction for domestic water charges. It would make is easier for a future government to bring those charges back in. The government should take the proposition off the table.”


Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Darragh O'Brien said his party would consider the proposals but said that the vast majority of households will not face any water charges.

“This would not mean a reintroduction of water charges. What we are talking about here is conserving a precious resource and ensuring there is no excessive use. No one who is using water normally will be affected in any way. What this will also lead to is the fixing of domestic leaks,” he said.

“A lot of the time excessive use points towards a problem with a leak. So, we are going to have to wait to see what this proposal will be and we haven’t got to that stage yet. We can’t have a situation where there is excessive use down to sheer wastefulness and you can’t do nothing in a situation where a person or persons are being knowingly wasteful or carrying out commercial operations in residential areas.”

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times