Water Charges in 2019


What is happening  with Water Charges in 2019 ?

The first “excessive usage” water charges were supposed to start around July 2019. But – it now looks like this could be delayed until late 2019 or early 2020 . (Maybe  because of fears of a backlash from voters at the local and European elections in May ?)

History of the Water Charges

  • Water charges were introduced in Ireland back in January 2015 – but they didn’t last very long .
  • After 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 until July 2017 so that the recommendations of the “experts” could be considered by the politicians .
  • A third extension of the suspension of water charges until 31st Dec 2017  was put in place in July 2017.

Water Charges were no longer suspended from January 2018.

Although ongoing domestic charges for “normal” use of water have stopped –  any household using  amounts of water over a specified threshold will be charged for water usage that exceeds that threshold. * See below for the threshold figures

The monitoring of people’s usage under the new charging regime was due to begin on Jan 1st 2018. (Of ourse – only homes with water meters can be monitored).

Those households who are identified as using water above the annual threshold will then be notified . They will then be given a six month period during which they can try to  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 were always due to start” no earlier”  than July 2019. It looks like this will now end up being later in 2019 or even early 2020.

What Is the Excess Water Threshold  Figure ?

The threshold figure was set in legislation in December 2017
It is 213,000 litres per year . That is 583 litres per day per household.

Household water usage figures from the CER,  show that the average water usage  for a four person household in Ireland is 125,000  litres a year  – so the threshold is 1.7 times that.

Based on CER figures – only about 7% of metered households  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 all bathing a couple of times a day!

To reach the threshold of 213,000 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. (Or have a leak)

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.This allowance is 25,000 litres a year per person.

  • So – for example ,
  •  5  person household  gets a   238,000 litre threshold
  •  6 person household gets a   263,000 litre threshold.

(A person is any adult or child)

The extra allowances will not be automatic – households will need to “claim” it,  but only if they are warned that they are exceeding the basic threshold. (Proof may be required of the number of occupants.)

(Note: About 27% of households in Ireland  have 5 or more people – which is about 218,000 households .)

What Will The Water Charges Be?

The charge per litre has not yet been set – but 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.

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