Well owners set to pay for private water extraction
Irish 'incorrect' in implementing directive
Owners of wells could be forced to pay for all water extracted for private use under a strict interpretation of the EU Water Framework Directive.
The EU Commission informed the Government last week that Ireland had "incorrectly implemented" the directive and threatened to refer the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) within two months if Ireland failed to comply with the legislation.
A Commission statement said that Ireland's interpretation of the directive had been restricted to the introduction of water charges for public supplies and improving water quality.
However, the Commission said that it viewed water services as a "wider notion" that included the drilling of water wells for "agricultural, industrial or private consumption".
The issue has serious implications for more than 200,000 rural homeowners who use private wells for either their farm or domestic water supplies.
It is unclear how the Commission move will impact on well owners. Charges could be levied on a flat annual rate or the volume of water extracted may have to be metered and fees imposed accordingly.
The IFA has called on the Government to oppose the Commission's efforts to impose charges on private wells.
"The Commission's interpretation of the Water Framework Directive would place an unjustifiable burden on households in rural communities," said Pat Farrell, of the IFA's national environment committee.