Politics

Wednesday 23 July 2014

One shower, one flush is all the water kids can use

Irish Water will charge for children

Daniel McConnell

Published 13/07/2014|00:00

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One shower and one toilet flush is all the water children will be able to use before being charged for it
One shower and one toilet flush is all the water children will be able to use before being charged for it

CHILDREN will be allocated only enough water to have a single shower and one toilet flush a day, despite Government promises parents won't have to pay for any water used by their kids, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

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Kids and teenagers under the age of 18 will have their promised free water allowance slashed almost in half under new plans by Irish Water.

The company has requested a dramatic reduction in the free allowance from 38,000 litres a year to just 21,000 litres in its submission to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), which was lodged last week.

The extent of the proposed cut casts fresh doubts over the Government's promise that average family bills will be capped at €240 a year.

Despite this, Taoiseach Enda Kenny last week insisted in the Dail children's water usage would be free and the average metered-charge per family per year would not be more than €240.

When asked by Sinn Fein's Peadar Tobin about any potential cut to the free allowance, Mr Kenny said: "The assessments for the use of water by children have certainly changed since the original assessments were carried out based on water usage in a different jurisdiction as we did not have water meters here at all. The regulator will determine that amount."

But he added: "There will be an average metered-charge of €240 per year and children's use will be free. That will not change."

Irish Water was heavily criticised by the Oireachtas Environment Committee earlier this month for failing to produce its submission document on charges and tariffs, despite promising to do so.

The company was forced to revise its earlier business model after the Government scrapped the planned €50 standing charge for all households.

The charge would have given Irish water a guaranteed revenue stream, but it was abandoned following protests by the Labour Party ahead of the local elections in May.

Sources confirmed to the Sunday Independent that the company's business models have had to be reworked numerous times on foot of "politically-driven alterations" to their remit.

Internal Irish Water documents released under Freedom of Information previously identified political interference as one of the greatest threats to the viability of the agency.

Research carried out by Irish Water revealed the average person consumes approximately 150 litres of water every day. This equates to almost two full bathtubs of water per day, or 54,750 litres per person each year. Most of this water is flushed away. Showers account for just under a third of a person's daily water usage. An average seven-minute shower uses up to 49 litres of water, but power showers can soak up to 175 litres in the same period.

The average full flush of a toilet uses seven litres of water. Under the proposed new allowance, children under 18 will be able to use just 57 litres - enough for one shower and one full toilet flush - per day. This means parents will be forced to fork out for any extra usage and for other basic needs, including washing clothes, boiling the kettle and brushing their teeth.

Worse still, a recent Irish Water survey revealed that 65pc of those surveyed have a power shower at home, indicating that a large number of people are individually washing away more than 63,800 litres of water - or 112,456 pints - each year on showering alone.

One of the most common ways water is wasted is by leaving the tap running while brushing your teeth, with the average person using about six litres per minute.

Irish water estimate people can individually save up to 7,000 litres of water every year by turning off the tap when brushing. And it claims cutting your shower times by one minute can save up to 9,000 litres a year.

The average washing machine uses up to 65 litres of water per cycle. According to Irish Water estimates, a single wash by every household in the country would require 104 million litres of water.

The survey also found 67pc of people use more water than needed when filling a kettle, while awareness of water saving devices was also generally low.

Sunday Independent

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