Wednesday 28 September 2016

Farmers facing flat rate domestic water charges charges

€160 and €260 tariffs instead of metered bills

Paul Melia and Martin Ryan

Published 01/07/2015 | 02:30

FARMERS will be hit with a flat rate charge for their domestic water use for the foreseeable future, the Farming Independent has learned.

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Irish Water said it was not possible to install two separate meters on farmyards, meaning a flat-rate charge of €160 for a one-adult house and €260 for two-adults or more will be applied.

Farmers are classed as 'mixed use customers' as they use water for domestic and commercial purposes from one supply.

Other groups include shopkeepers who live above the business premises.

Under the old system operated by local authorities, farmers received a generous free domestic water allowance of up to 220,000 litres per year.

This has been scrapped since water charges came into force on January 1 last.

Now, farmers will receive an 'assessed' bill for their domestic water, and a separate bill for their farmyard use.

The existing tariffs for commercial water will remain in place until the Commission for Energy Regulation decides if they should be changed.

There are as many as 500 different tariffs across the country's local authorities.

Irish Water said that commercial tariffs would remain in place, but that farmers - like all other households drawing water from the public mains - would now be charged for their domestic consumption.

Changes to the tariff system are unlikely to be applied until at least next year.

Billing systems

"The 31 local authorities will continue to issue the bills for the non domestic use. The bill for domestic use will be issued separately by Irish Water," a spokeswoman said.

"The bills for domestic and non-domestic use are being produced on different billing systems. Domestic bills are being produced on the Irish Water billing system, while non-domestic bills are being produced on Local Authority billing systems on behalf of Irish Water for the time being."

Farmers will receive two bills - one from their local authority based on the amount of commercial water used, and a second for their domestic supply from Irish Water based on the number of people living in the house.

Domestic bills will arrive each quarter.

The scale of water charges previously applied by the local authorities for commercial purposes will continue to apply to farmers pending the outcome of the review.

Irish Water said it was not possible to install two meters on one supply pipe, meaning that the flat-rate charge would apply.

The €100 water conservation grant from the Department of Social Protection could be claimed if the customer was registered with the utility.

When Irish Water takes control of the entire billing system, it could result in some customers receiving rebates.

This would arise where an examination of the total bills finds that domestic consumption is less than expected.

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