Water Charges and Medical Conditions

Medical Needs: Water Charges and Bill Capping

People who may have have higher water usage because of  various medical conditions will have their Irish Water  bills capped at the relevant assessed charge for their household size.
For  example – the assessed charge on an unmetered,  two adult household is €278 – so their bill would never be more than €278  a year – even if they have  a meter and use more than €278 worth of water.  See all the assessed charges here

A list of medical conditions covered by this capping was  due to be published by the government before charging commenced – but it looks like there will no longer be a list . There isn’t even a specific question on the Irish Water forms about people with medical conditions requiring extra water.

Question 16 does ask about  “Services for Vulnerable customers ” and there is a box to tick if you want to  ” request registration forms and information for special and priority services.”  The form mentions priority services being for critical water usage such as home dialysis.
This box is really supposed to be for Irish Water to know which customers may need urgent priority in the case of water shut offs etc.  But – in the absence of any other box to tick  – it seems that ticking this box might mean your metered bill will be capped (as described above)   So – if  anyone has  a medical condition that will cause them to use more water – then they can indicate that on the Irish Water “application” form. Tick the box under Question 16. The least that will happen is that you should be sent anther form to “apply” for the cap !

Note: All metered bills are to be capped at the relevant assessed charge for the first 9 months anyway – so there is no need to worry till July  and by then you will see how much water you are using on your bills.

The explanatory notes on the Irish Water form  say

Irish Water has developed a confidential priority services register for residential customers who have a critical medical dependency on water. You qualify if you have a critical medical dependency on water. Please note that we may ask for proof of eligibility for inclusion on the register and this may involve requesting medical information.
Provision is also being made for customers with higher usage due to medical needs. Please contact us to request an information booklet and registration form.”

The Irish Water website FAQ has this … “The Water Charges Plan, under consideration by the CER, proposes that both metered and unmetered customers will have their bills capped for 6 months based on national average usage for the amount of occupants living in the home. It is expected that arrangements for customers with medical conditions giving rise to higher usage will be put in place in this period.”

The latest Irish Water charges document has this :If a customer has a medical condition consistently requiring the use of additional water they may declare this in their application to Irish Water for their Water Allowances. A subsequent applicationform for the Essential Medical Use Register will be made available on request.At present there is no requirement for the Customer to state the medical  condition giving rise to the need for additional water on the application form i.e.there is no list of qualifying medical conditions.However in applying for this protection the Customer will be advised that Irish Water may seek evidence of their medical condition (medical certificate or similar) and that Irish Water may investigate instances of high usage to determine if there is other water use (e.g.  non-domestic) or leakage at the property. Customers may be liable for water charges retrospectively if it is proved that no such medical condition exists.The approach for dealing with customers with medical conditions requiring additional water will be reviewed after 12 months.”

In the UK – these are the medical conditions included in a similar water bill capping scheme called WaterSure:

Desquamation (flaky skin disease)
Weeping skin disease (eczema, psoriasis or varicose ulceration)
Abdominal stomas
Renal failure requiring dialysis at home
Crohn’s disease
Ulcerative colitis