Water Charges – The Latest Leaks

A final decision on water charges will not be made until at least August by the Commission for Energy Regulation. They will be taking into account submissions from Irish Water and others as well as input from government regarding the fee structure.

There was a discussion this week by the Cabinet about water charges – and some of the figures were “leaked” to the press.
Now – it isn’t long until the local elections and this could just be an attempt to get some good (or bad)  publicty for one of the parties.
The figures that were leaked mentioned “average” water charges of €240 a year. Maybe they thought this would be good news – because it was lower than some of the figures that had been mentioned over the past year or so.  A day earlier there were media reports on Irish Water wanting to have a standing charge of €100 – but the “leaked” figures mentioned a €50 standing charge . More good news ?
Fine Gael were also quick to point out in the Dail and on their website that a few years ago Fianna Fail were talking about bringing in water charges of €400 a year.  They couldn’t have mentioned that if the figures weren’t leaked.
Labour appeared to be slightly surprised by the figures as if it was all new to them – and they made a point of disagreeing with them – again proabably just a vote winning exercise.

One  figure that has been confirmed by Enda Kenny is the €537 million that   Irish Water will get each year from the government in 2015 and 2016. This is apparently the maximum they can give them if Irish Water is to remain classified as a commercial State company.

We had a go earlier in the year at working out how much the Water Charges might be  and came up with an average figure of  €370 a year. That was simply based on an expected Irish Water revenue of €500 million from the estimated 1.35 million homes on the public water system.

An average water charge figure of €240 (including a €50 standing charge) has been mentioned by Enda Kenny and others in the Dail.
If that figure is based on the number of homes connected to the public water system – then the total annual revenue of Irish Water  from domestic customers would be  €324 million.

Other figures that have been mentioned are a free annual water  allowance of 30,000 litres per adult and 38,000 litres per child. Metered charges per litre would kick in after that usage was reached – probably on a daily basis (82l per day for an adult)
(The average usage per adult is estimated to be about 55,000 Litres  a year.)

To work out all these free allowances – Irish Water will need to know how many people live in each house and what age  they are. That could be another costly data gathering exercise.
Until meters are installed there will be an “assessed” charge  which will probably be based on house size and/or occupants.

Also – there will need to be a standing charge for the supply of water and also for a public sewage connection.  Not all homes have both.  There are about 280,000 homes that are vacant or holiday homes – so these will only be paying the standing charge. If these homes have been included in the calculations – that  means the average charge for an occupied home will be more than €240

Hopefully it will all become crystal clear by August?

By then – Irish Water will probably be no longer part of Bord Gais because Bord Gais will have been renamed Ervia  and the Bord Gais brand will be in use by Centrica who are buying Bord Gais Energy – more about that here