Water charges 'to raise €1 billion'

 

The Government intends to raise as much as €1 billion per annum from water metering charges when they are introduced, Minister for Environment John Gormley said this morning.

Minister Gormley is expected to bring proposals to Government in the coming weeks for the installation of water meters in 1.1 million homes connected to the public water mains supply.

Many householders around the country are still experiencing water shortages two weeks after the end of the severe weather conditions due to burse pipes and leaks.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Minister Gormley described as "shocking" the percentage or water which is lost annually due to defective pipes, and said that situation must be rectified immediately.

Earlier today the minister announced that investment in replacing defective water mains will increase to €300million over the next three years. He also said that his department was examining options to ensure delivering of metering and that roll out of meters will likely begin next year.

"We've taken the decision now to introduce water metering in this country which will be done on the basis of an allocation of water to each household and you pay above that," said Mr Gormley.

"We are the only country in Europe where we don't have water metering and where we don't charge domestically. That needs to be reversed and reversed as soon as possible," he added.

Mr Gormley said that it costs about €1billion per annum to treat water for public consumption and that the Government would seek to recoup the cost of this through metering. He also called the abolition of water charges by previous governments as "nonsensical and spineless."

Fine Gael today welcomed the additional funds for replacing defective water mains but said the Government is not taking steps to fully address the underlying problems of Ireland’s water infrastructure.

The party’s environment spokesman Phil Hogan called on Minister Gormley to set up a new water utility company to take over responsibility for water investment and maintenance management from the local authorities.

As much as €4.6 billion has been invested in water services since 2000, of which €2.8 billion has been spent on sewage treatment plants and €1.8 billion on water supply. This was supplemented by spending of some €900 million by local authorities from their own resources.

Separately, all four Dublin local authorities have again warned householders of water shortages in the capital this week with severe restrictions in place last night in Kimmage, Crumlin, Drimnagh, Irishtown, Ballsbridge, Sandymount, the north side of South Circular Road, the north side of the Liffey from Collins Barracks to Capel Street, Finglas, Poppintree, Oakwood and Jamestown Road.