Wednesday 21 March 2018

REVEALED: Level of water use where 'excessive use' charges will kick in

(Stock image)
(Stock image)
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

THE definition of excessive water usage will be frozen for five years once the new charging regime is introduced.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy tonight began the process of formally ending domestic water charges and replacing it with a new system that penalised “water wastage”.

The legislation specifics that a household will have to use 1.7 times the average amount before bills kick in.

Opposition parties have argued that a provision in the Bill to allow this figure be changed by the Oireachtas is a backdoor to the reintroduction of charges.

However, Mr Murphy told the Dail it cannot be adjusted within five years of the Act coming into being.

The Bill also clears the way for water charge refunds to almost one million households and those who still owe money to Irish Water will see their bills written off.

“The publication of this Bill brings us towards completion of an extensive deliberative process about the funding of domestic water services.

“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 the repeal of the 2014 charging regime was a victory for the confidence and supply agreement his party entered into after the last general election.

He said “only water wasters” will be penalised and it is “time to turn a page on this”.

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