Wednesday 26 July 2017

Households that 'wilfully abuse water' to face prosecutions

Taoiseach Enda Kenny Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins
Taoiseach Enda Kenny Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Households that “wilfully abuse water or permit wastage” should be prosecuted and have sanctions imposed, according to a draft report being considered by TDs and senators.

The report, seen by Independent.ie, aims to form the basis of a compromise between the main political parties.

Crucially, it states that existing laws can be used to tackle wastage. This has been a sticking point between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil for several weeks.

Lawyers for the Oireachtas were asked to consider whether introducing changes to a 2007 law called the Water Services Act will ensure Ireland complies with its EU obligations known as the Water Framework Directive.

“It seems to me that the Water Services Act of 2007 can be amended to meet the overall obligations arising from the Water Framework Directive and comply with the and to address and comply with the polluter pays provisions in it,” stated Oireachtas lawyer Ramona Quinn.

However, sticking points still remain between members of the committee, who have been given a deadline of Good Friday to strike a deal on water.

According to the document, circulated to members by committee chairman Pádraig Ó Céidigh, those who waste water should face prosecutions.

“The Committee recommends that the Water Services Act 2007 be amended to ensure that those who wilfully abuse water or permit wastage can be prosecuted and that sanctions can be imposed,” the document states.

It also recommends that households that have paid all or some of their bills should be compensated.

“In respect of those who have paid some or all of the domestic water charges, the Committee recommends that, following consideration of and taking into account the fiscal implications and the most effective refund methods, such households should be compensated in an equitable manner.”

The committee also recommends the introduction of a scheme for waivers for domestic users who use water excessively for medical reasons.

However, there remains bones of contention between the two main parties on the issue of metering.

The draft document recommends that all new dwellings and dwelling refurbishments should be required to have water meters installed. This to date has been opposed by Fianna Fáil.

The committee says that “bulk metering” should be installed doe apartment blocks. And it calls on the Government to consider how best to incentivise the “voluntary take up” of meter installation.

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