Water bills in 2013 even if meters aren't ready
WATER charges are on the way in two years' time, whether meters are installed in every house in the country or not.
The Government yesterday admitted it will take three years to install water meters across the country and the plan won't start until next year. But the IMF-EU deal says water charges have to come in by 2013.
Coalition sources said the plan is to have the meters installed in time, but flat-rate charges would come if the process was not finished.
But there were contradictory statements on the issue from the Government yesterday.
Junior Minister Fergus O'Dowd said the Cabinet was not expected to sign off on the charges until usage could be measured in every home.
But he also said a nationwide water metering programme would only begin next year and it will take workers until 2014 to complete this installation.
It is believed that €1bn per year could be raised following the installation of water meters in 1.1 million homes around the country.
Mr O'Dowd said the coalition would create Irish Water, a new state company to take over the water investment maintenance programmes of the 34 existing local authorities.
He said every household would have a free allowance for water and would only be charged when they used this up.
"I understand it could take up to three years in total to install water meters in every household.
"It can be very expensive to install meters where people are living in blocks of apartments," he added.
"From the briefing I have received, approximately 1,800 people will be employed for a period of three years to install meters in every house in the country. I presume that when all of that has happened, there will then be a decision on charging."
However, Fianna Fail's Willie O'Dea asked if people working in water maintenance in local authorities would lose their jobs as a result of the plan.
Mr O'Dowd said it would not make sense to move all 3,000 local authority staff working in that area to the new firm.