What is going to happen to Water Charges in 2018 ?
- Water charges were introduced in Ireland back in January 2015 – but it didn’t last very long .
- After plenty of protests and political bargaining – the Water Charges were eventually suspended in July 2016 for 9 months while an “expert group” looked into what to do next.
- In April 2017 – the suspension of charges was extended again until July 2017 so that the recommendations of the “experts” could be considered by the politicians .
- A third (and final ?)extension of the suspension of water charges until 31st Dec 2017 was put in place in July 2017.
So – unless there are further suspensions – Water Charges will no longer be suspended from January 2018
Water Charges from January 2018 (Updated Sept 25th 2017)
Under the proposed new legislation – ongoing domestic charges for “normal” use of water will be stopped – but any household using amounts of water over a specified threshold will be charged for water usage that exceeds that threshold.
* The threshold and the actual charge rates per litre are yet to be confirmed
The monitoring of people’s usage under the new charging regime is due to begin in 2018 and they will be monitored for a full year to the end of 2018.
Those households who are identified as using water above this threshold will then be notified at the beginning of 2019. They will be given a six month period during which they can reduce their water usage. If they haven’t done that by the end of the six months they will then be charged for any usage above the threshold for that six month period and any ongoing usage over the threshold.
The first “excessive usage” water charges will be due to start around July 2019.
What is the Threshold ?
The threshold figure proposed in the legislation is 1.7 times the average household water usage.
The average household usage figure to be used in working out this threshold has yet to be decided. It will be determined after a review by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities : CRU (The new name for the Commission for Energy Regulation) .See below for our estimate of the threshold.
Average Water Usage:
Average household water usage figures from the CER for early 2016 (excluding known leaks) was 103,000 litres a year (103 cubic metres)
So – if 103,000 litres was the average usage figure to be used to calculate the threshold – then the threshold level for “excessive” use would be 175,000 litres a year (175 cubic metres).
Based on CER figures – only about 9% of metered households currently exceed this threshold and could therefore expect to be asked to pay water charges for usage above the threshold.
It should be pretty difficult for households of less than 3 people to exceed this threshold – unless they are watering a large garden all the time or bathing 3 times a day.
To reach the threshold of 175,000 litres a year – a household of 3 or more people would probably need to be making daily use of a washing machine, having daily baths or daily use of a power shower and making regular use of a hosepipe or sprinkler and frequent use of water throughout the day.
Allowances for Larger Households :
There will be extra water allowances that can be claimed for households with 5 or more people. This extra allowance will be given for each person over and above 4 people.
So – for example , based on the estimated figures , if the allowance was 20,000 litres per person then a 5 person household would have a total water usage threshold of 175,000 plus 20,000 = 195,000 litres.
A 6 person household would have 215,000 litre threshold.
The extra allowance will not be automatic – households will need to “claim” it if they are warned that they are exceeding the basic threshold. (Proof may be required of the number of occupants.)
The exact level of this extra occupancy water allowance will also be determined by the CRU in the coming months.
(Note: About 27% of households have 5 or more people – which is about 218,000 households .)
What Will The Water Charges Be?
We assume there will be a simple charge rate per litre over and above the threshold (and any additional allowances). A figure that was used in some sample calculations by the CER was €3.70 per 1000 litres . So , if this was the charge rate , a household using 50,000 litres of water over the annual threshold would be billed €185 in water charges for the year. (These are indicative figures only)
The government says that homes will still continue to be metered and meters will still be read at least every quarter so that any home using excessive amounts of water can be identified.
It is not clear how unmetered homes can be charged for any excessive use – because their usage will just not be known.
Refunds of Water Charges: Update Sept 2017 :Latest on Refunds of Water Charges