Definition of water waste will be frozen for five years
The definition of excessive water usage will be frozen for five years once the new charging regime is introduced.
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy last night began the process of formally ending domestic water charges and replacing it with a new system that penalised "water wastage".
Households will have to use 1.7 times the average amount before bills kick in.
Opposition parties have argued a provision in the Bill to allow this figure to be changed by the Oireachtas is a backdoor to the reintroduction of charges.
However, Mr Murphy told the Dáil it cannot be adjusted within the first five years of the Act coming into being.
"It doesn't bring us to a point I am personally happy with or proud of, but my responsibility in this matter is to implement this legislation to protect Irish Water as a single public water utility, and to continue to work to improve and modernise water services throughout the country," the minister said.
Fianna Fáil's water spokesman Barry Cowen said "only water wasters" would be penalised and it was "time to turn a page on this".