We have known for more than 2 years that Water Charges in Ireland were coming . We wrote in Jan 2012 about the prospect of Water Charges.
The first mention of anything definite was the Troika (IMF/ECB/EU) Memorandum of Understanding in December 2010 when the government stated that they were planning to move towards “full cost-recovery in the provision of water services ” … with a view to start charging in 2012/2013.n.
In May 2011 a Troika review document had a slight change to the target date for water charges – it now said “with a view to starting charging during the EU/IMF Programme period.” The latest April 2013 IMF/EU report sticks to the same target date.
(Note: The EU/IMF programme is due to end on 31st December 2013 – but there is always the possibility of it being extended if they are not satisfied with Ireland’s performance.)
Recent comments by Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore seemed to hint that a Jan 2014 for water taxes start date might not happen. (Maybe the government is worried about bad voter reaction after the property tax)
The main instigator of water charges is the EU Commission . They issued a directive about water charges in 2010 that requires members to ensure “water-pricing policies provide adequate incentives to use water resources efficiently and to recover the true costs of water services in an equitable manner”
The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) have been given the job of working out how much Irish Water will be able to charge for water – but that will be based on various criteria provided by the government.
We are expecting the water charge to made up of a standing charge and (eventually) a charge for the amount of water used over and above a “free” allowance .
Measurement of water usage needs water meters. Water meters are due to be installed in about 1 million homes – but another 350,000 homes will probably remain unmetered . (Apartments and other places with technical difficulties) .
Unmetered homes will probably be charged a flat “assessed” rate for water – but how that will be assessed is still to be decided.
Until all meters are installed – all the unmetered homes will also be charged a flat rate for water.
Water meter installation is expected to start in the second half 2013 . Even if it starts on time and goes to plan and they manage to fit 27000 a month – it won’t be finished until 2016 . So many thousands of households could be paying flat rate water charges for up to 2 years .
Affordability is also expected to be part of the charging calculations – with possible lower charges for people on lower incomes. How this will be implemented is not known – and it could be messy – but maybe it could be tied in with the current scheme for electricity and gas allowances.
The water charges will be made up of a water supply charge and a waste water charge. So – we assume that everyone who has registered their own waste water treatment system or septic tank will not be charged for the waste water element. (That might see a few more people registering their septic tanks etc)
How Much Will Water Charges Be?
At the moment nobody knows – but by this summer the CER will have published the figures . We might expect to see similar charges to a country such as Scotland – where the average water charges are £324 per household per year . That is about €388 Euro .