What is going to happen to Water Charges in 2017 ?
Water charging was introduced in Ireland back in January 2015 – but it didn’t last very long . After lots of protests and political bargaining – Water Charges in Ireland were eventualy 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 until July 2017 so that the recommendations of the “experts” can be considered by the politicians who will vote on the final plan.
An expert commission published a report in November 2016. Following this – an Oireachtas “Joint Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services ” then considered the commission’s recommendations and developed its own recommendations, which were published on 12 April 2017.
The proposal is that domestic charges for water will be stopped – but that any household using excessive amounts of water will be charged a levy . The threshold figure for what is classed as excessive use is expected to be 1.7 times the average household usage. There will probably be extra allowances for larger households and people with medical conditions that require more water usage.
According to the Joint Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services report – the average daily usage per person is 133 litres or 48,545 litres a year.
Based on this figure – the threshold level for “excessive” use will be 226 litres per person daily or 82 cubic metres per person anually .
To reach those high usage figures a household 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.
See our estimated water usage figures from 2014
We expect that Irish Water and the CER will have plenty of data from metering that will possibly enable them to work out average figures for different household sizes . We don’t think it will just be a matter of multiplying 133 litres a day by the number of occupants.
To accurately identify homes with excessive usage will be a challenge. It will require information on occupancy levels – which may not be possible to obtain or maintain.
If the system is to work – it will need to take account of occupant numbers. It may be that once a household hits the threshold level thay will be sent a warning and asked to provide information about occupants before being charged any levy or penalty.
Homes will still 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 of if unmetered homes could be charged for any excessive use – because their usage will not be known.
Refunds of Water Charges: Anyone that paid water charges prior to July 2016 will be entitled to a full refund . It is expected that any payment of the €100 Water Conservation Grant that was claimed – will be deducted from any refund due.