It's easy to claim €100 grant - but you won't get it until September
All households including those on group water schemes will get a €100 water subsidy - but it will be September 2015 before it is paid.
The new payment will be paid out on a one-off basis rather than on a quarterly system as previously envisaged, the Department of Social Protection has confirmed.
The payment is not means tested, and all householders will be able to apply for it on their primary residence - including those on group water schemes or with private supplies - as long as they register with Irish Water.
The new Water Conservation Grant replaces the former water charges rebate of €100 to long-term social welfare recipients and the 20pc tax break on water charges announced in last month's budget.
The key difference is that it will be available to all households - the previous system excluded many people on low wages or short-term welfare payments such as jobseekers' benefit.
The new subsidy will require each household to register with Irish Water by February 2 and then to apply to the Department of Social Protection, which will administer payment on behalf of the Department of the Environment.
Those who have already registered with Irish Water don't need to do so again, although they may amend their details to reflect the fact that all children under 18 now qualify for the child water allowance, and not only those on child benefit.
Households will have to supply information and confirm that the home in question is their primary dwelling.
"The grant will be paid to all householders annually in respect of their primary dwellings, with the first payment to be paid in September 2015 and each subsequent year up to and including 2018," the department said in a statement.
It said it was putting structures in place to administer the scheme and would announce full details when they were finalised.
"The water conservation grant replaces the tax rebate and social protection measures previously announced, as it is a more straightforward means of addressing water issues for all households on equal terms and will reduce households' outlay on water services both now and in the future."
A spokesperson confirmed €100 would be paid once a year rather than €25 per quarter, as envisaged with the previously announced social welfare water subsidy.
Customers who receive the water conservation grant will already have been liable for two quarterly payments to Irish Water, meaning most households will have been billed €130 while single-person households will have been billed €80 by the time they get it.
It is believed customers who do not have a bank account to receive the payment will be able to get it through the post office network, as is currently the case with other social welfare payments, although the details have yet to be clarified.
It was not being paid until September because it will take some time to get the system up and running.
Environment Minister Alan Kelly said that households in group water schemes which register with Irish Water will be able to get the subsidy.
This includes those on private schemes which have no interaction with Irish Water, and those on public schemes which receive water from public supplies but manage their networks and set their own charges.
The Department of Environment said that the payment was being made on a universal basis to all households for their primary residence, because this was fairer and did not exclude any primary residences.