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No water fees before meters are in - council

DUBLIN City Council has vowed to write to the Government in an attempt to ensure that there is a free basic water allowance and a full roll-out of domestic water meters, prior to any charges coming into effect.

The calls came after concerns were raised that charges would be introduced before every home is equipped with a meter.

The installation of meters will begin later this year, and it will take up to three years to install meters nationwide.

However, councillors argued that fears have been raised due to the possibility of fees being introduced based on the average use of water consumption before 2014.

They also outlined the possibility of introducing waivers for low-income households because some people will "not be able to pay".

Cllr Mary Fitzpatrick (FF) said there are concerns that Ireland's water system will fall foul to a public quango.

She said the proposed role of Irish Water should be maintained by local authorities who have the capacity and capabilities to keep the service going.

"There are concerns that the service, when it comes into effect, will eventually be privatised. That could mean more charges," she said.

Cllr Cieran Perry (ind) argued that the service will become "another tax to our basic needs".

He said taxpayers will not be able to afford it and that some people will continue to boycott such proposals.

Cllr Brid Smith (PBPA) said the money being used to install meters should instead be used to finance "leakage issues and the refurbishment and replacement of damaged pipes".

She described water charges as a "mistake" and said similar systems worldwide have not met with their intended "ideals".

Cllr Paddy McCartan (FG) likened the charges to gas and electricity bills. He said there is a serious need for meters as water is becoming the new oil.

In response, council officials said they would be supportive of ensuring that no charges are implemented prior to meters being installed.