Pay-as-you-go water metering – beyond a joke?


Sir, – While your readers will twig your April Fools’ Day article on pay-as-you-go water metering, I suspect there will be many murmurs of “that’s actually not a bad idea” over the breakfast tables of Respectable Ireland ( “Pay-as-you-go water metering for social housing proposed by Government”, Online, April 1st).

Studies in the UK have shown that one of the most, if not the most, significant contributors to the poverty premium (that is, the widely known phenomenon that poor people tend to have to pay more to consume and borrow than richer people) is the reliance of poor households on electricity prepayment meters.

The proposal of PAYG water metering, while made in jest, therefore represents a perfect opportunity to further shift the burden of the cost of the provision of water and wastewater services away from business and the more well-to-do and onto the shoulders of lower-income households.

This is, after all, what service charges do.

As Irish Times readers will know, given the newspaper’s hardline pro-charges editorial stance, conserving water is for poor people, who ought to cut down on such venerable working-class pastimes as washing their cars daily, watering their boundless lawns (working-class suburbs, in the minds of Irish Water true believers, having arid microclimates) and leaving their taps running for no particular reason.

PAYG water meters are the logical extrapolation at the heart of the Irish Water business model. In fact, it is a wonder the proposal has not been mooted in these pages already. – Yours, etc,