Sunday 26 October 2014

Q&A on water charges

Published 01/08/2014 | 02:30

Water charges
Water charges

* WHAT happened to the 'average' charge of €238 a year promised by Government?

While the average charge remains the same, the bill will depend on household size and number of children in the home. Children over 18 are treated as adults.

* How much will I pay?

A single parent with two children will pay €177, a couple some €278, a family of four with two children €279 and a family of five, with one child over 18, will pay €382. Households with four adults will be hit with a €483 annual charge.

* What am I paying for?

Water in (drinking water) and water out (wastewater). If you have a septic tank and well, you will not pay. If you have a septic tank, but take water from a public supply, you pay the 'water in' charge. If you have a well, but discharge to a mains, you pay for 'water out'.

* What do I get for free?

There's 30,000 litres a year per adult. Another 21,000 litres per child under 18. You must provide your details to Irish Water to avail of the allowance.

* How much does it cost to provide this water?

Some €594 per household for both services. The Government, or taxpayer, is funding the free allowances.

* Why is the bill being capped for six months?

To allow us get used to paying for water. Everybody will pay an assessed or average charge based on consumption in similarly-sized households until March, after which bills will be based on consumption if you have a meter.

* What if I don't have a meter?

You will continue to pay an assessed charge.

* What if my meter says I used less than the average charge?

You will get a refund. If you have a leak, the bill is capped until it is fixed by Irish Water.

* How much water do I use?

Irish Water says the first adult uses 66,000 litres a year, and each additional adult another 21,000 litres. Not until meters are installed will you know your actual consumption.

* What if I cannot drink the water?

The regulator says half the 'water in' charge will be removed. If the problem lasts longer than three months, no 'water in' charge will apply.

* I have a medical condition which involves high usage. What happens to me?

Your bill will be capped, but the medical conditions which will qualify have yet to be decided.

* I have a holiday home. Will I pay?

You will pay a minimum water charge of €80.

* What if Irish Water's customer service is poor?

The regulator says it will have to pay the customer €10 if they fail to meet commitments on complaints handling, billing accuracy or treatment of customers in financial difficulty.

* How will I pay?

There will be a range of payment options, including through the Post Office in instalments, by direct debit or bank transfer.

* What if I cannot afford the bill?

The Household Benefits package will include a €100 payment to cover some of the charge. Community welfare officers can also be approached for additional help.

* What will the money be used for?

To operate and upgrade the water network. Irish Water sought permission to spend €2.263m up to the end of 2016, but the regulator cut €185m from the amount, saying its spending was too high compared with international counterparts.

* Are these charges finalised?

No. They are out for public consultation for the next month. You can make submissions by August 28. Comments should be marked CER/14/363 and emailed to waterchargesplan@cer.ie, or posted to Commission for Energy Regulation, The Exchange, Belgard Square North, Tallaght, Dublin 24.

Irish Independent

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