Households face charges of up to €500 for excessive water use under new plans


Cormac McQuinn

HOUSEHOLDS face charges of up to €500 for wasting water under a regime of excessive use charges that has been approved by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU).

The CRU has today published its decision on Irish Water's proposals for charging for excessive use.

Under the plans, first bills for wasting water are due to land with households in early 2021.

The CRU says the proposal for an excess water usage charge is aimed at encouraging engagement and conservation by Irish Water Customers to address leaks and discourage waste.

An analysis by the regulator and Irish Water indicates that between 7pc and 10pc of households - around 80,000 homes - which have water meters use more than the planned annual free allowance of 213,000 litres per year.

That allowance is 1.7 times the average amount of water used by a household of 125,000 litres per year.

To address the waste, Irish Water put forward proposals on Hosuehold Water Conservation and how customers can engage with them to address over-use.

The proposals approved by the CRU include a procedure for Irish Water to assess, notify and, if required, charge customers for excess usage.

Customers will potentially be able to avail of the 'First Fix Free' scheme for leaks.

There is to be a procedure for the treatment of metered and un-metered customers.

The excess use charge is €3.70 per 1,000 litres used over the annual free allowance for households that use water and waste-water services.

The charges of any household will be capped at €500.

Customers can receive a medical need exemption or an additional occupancy allowance.

CRU director of Water and Compliance Laura Brien said: "Conservation must play a significant part in addressing future resilience of the water infrastructure in Ireland.

"This policy clearly sets out how customers must be treated by Irish Water, if excess use is identified, and how customers will be given the opportunity to address this in terms of either fixing leaks or adjusting their consumption levels before any charges may apply.”