CER's water charges plan worth considering
It hasn't gone away, you know.
Water charges are still firmly on the political radar.
The loftily named Dáil committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services, chaired by Galway Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh, meets today.
The committee would be more aptly titled: 'How do you solve a disaster like water charges?'
Ahead of its sitting, the committee invited submissions to gauge the views on water from across the spectrum.
Needless to say, a lot of the correspondence received was from the usual suspects and contained the usual views of the usual suspects.
However, the paper put in by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) raises a few interesting prospects.
Under its proposals, householders would earn money from beating the meter, by keeping their water usage under the free household allowance.
The plan would entail people opting in to having a water meter installed on their property. Then they would enjoy a tax rebate or other financial incentive if they reduced consumption.
At the same time, the CER says the overall metering programme, which has cost almost half-a-billion euro to date, should be stopped.
Instead, the levels of investment needed to bring the network in line with EU quality standards should be the priority.
The proposal would appear to go some way to meeting the EU's water framework directive, which sets out binding legal rules on domestic water charges respecting the 'polluter pays' principle.
But that assumes there can be consensus on water charges continuing in some format.