HOUSEHOLDERS who fail to register with Irish Water face an annual charge of €424, it emerged this morning.
The regulator said that this will be made up of the average charge of €278 for two adults - and they will not receive the annual free allowance of €146 a year
Meanwhile, householders unable to drink their water will pay nothing until the problem is dealt with and the water deemed safe for human consumption.
In a dramatic turn-around, the water regulator has decided that it is unfair to charge customers for water which does not meet quality standards and which could pose a risk to health.
And the regulator, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), has also decided that all 1.35 million customers of Irish Water will pay an assessed or average charge for nine months after charges kick in from tomorrow.
The assessed charge - based on average consumption of households of similar size - will apply until next July, after which those with a meter installed will pay based on consumption.
This means that similarly-sized households will pay the same bill. A family of one adult will pay €176 a year for their drinking water and wastewater. Children will not be charged - each child will receive 21,000 litres of ‘free’ water per year, and the CER has promised to monitor usage of minors to ensure they do not incur a bill.
The charge per additional adult is €102 per year.
This means the charge for a family with two adults will be €278 a year, rising to €381 for three adults, €483 for four and €586 for five.
The bill is half for those using one service, for example if a household has a well or septic tank they will only pay one part of the bill. If they have both, they will not pay.
Anybody with a meter found to be using less will be refunded the difference once charging moves to a consumption-based system.
Details of the final charges were revealed by the CER this morning,
The draft proposals were published last July, and have been somewhat altered following 345 responses during a public consultation process.
The main points are:
*All customers will have their charges capped at the ‘assessed charge’ for nine months. The original proposal was for six months.
*If the amount of water used by a metered customer is less than that charged under the assessed basis, they will be refunded. It was proposed to give this refund 12 months after the meter was installed. This has been reduced to six months.
*Customers will not pay for water deemed unfit for human consumption, if a boil water notice is in place for 24 hours. The original proposal was that half the cost of drinking water would be discounted if the boil water notice was in place for three months, and a 100pc discount applied after that.
*But customers on a boil water notice - including more than 20,000 in Roscommon - will pay for wastewater services.
*The cost per 1,000 litres of drinking water is €2.44, and the same tariff applies for wastewater - meaning no change from the July proposals.
*The charge for holiday homes and “non-primary” residences has been reduced from €160 to €125 per year, or €62.50 per service.
*If a leak is identified by Irish Water in a customer’s premises, charge will be capped at the assessed rate until it is fixed.
The CER said it would monitor Irish Water’s spending to ensure it delivered value for money.
The existing charges for non-domestic customers will apply until CER decides on a new system. Anyone with joint supplies - for example people living above the shop or, in some cases - farmers - will pay on the same basis as other households.
“Having considered the public comments received to the CER’s consultation on water
charges, the CER is today bringing clarity to the matter and introducing a number of changes
which we hope will benefit customers,” CER’s Commissioner Paul McGowan said.
“These changes include an extension of capped water charges from six to nine months, and a commitment to a zero charge for the water supply element of the bill for domestic customers on a boil water notice.
“We will continue to monitor Irish Water closely in order to help ensure that the quality and efficiency of Ireland’s water system improves in the years ahead.”
Some 80pc of households will have a meter by the end of 2016. Currently, around 400,000 are installed.