Saturday 25 October 2014

Farm water allowances are slashed

Martin Ryan

Published 13/08/2014 | 02:30

The first Irish Water meter being installed in Maynooth, Co. Kildare in August, 2013. Photo: Colm Mahady / Fennells.
The first Irish Water meter being installed in Maynooth, Co. Kildare in August, 2013. Photo: Colm Mahady / Fennells.

Farmers using the public water supply for domestic and farm use are to lose up to 70pc of their previous household allowance under the new system coming into effect this year.

Following last week's Farming Independent revelations about the multitude of water bills that farm families relying on mains water will be faced with later this year, office of the Energy Regulator confirmed that they were bombarded with calls from concerned families and that they will be taking into consideration all submissions in a further review to be carried out over the next two years.

One problem area that has emerged are situations where farmers have already made substantial financial and time investments in the water service infrastructure for which they will now be levied with additional charges.

Thousands of these farmers have already contributed towards the capital cost of water supplies for households and farms in rural areas through their contributions to group water schemes that have been incorporated into the Local Authority service in recent years.

The local groups found water supplies - frequently on their own farms - and helped out in co-operative schemes to lay the piping to the homes and farms. In some cases, they also made up any financial shortfall required in addition to state support.

Although all farmers have been assessed by actual meter reading usage for several years, Irish Water will be billing them as non-metered customers up to a new allowance. This fixed rate charge will be based on the number of people resident in the house.

Up to now farmers received an annual allowance of at least 50,000 gallons (227,000 litres) for household use under the Local Authority schemes.

The scale of the cut to be introduced under Irish Water is dependent on the number of people resident in the house.

The allocation for a single farmer drops from an annual of 227,000 litres to 66,000 litres. This allocation is increased by 21,000 litres for each additional person resident in the house.

The fixed charge, being levied for the supply is being set relative to house residency, e.g. farmer and his wife and two adult family members will pay €241 per annum.

In addition to the charge from Irish Water, farmers will continue to receive a biannual bill from the Local Authority for the rental of each meter of up to €200. Water usage charges above the new allowance will be added to this.

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