Concerns have been raised about Irish Water's plans to disconnect business customers in the Garden County with unpaid water bills.
The water utility has indicated that it could disconnect the water supply of businesses as 'a measure of last resort' where there is overdue debt for unpaid water charges. The move would not apply to domestic customers.
In a statement, an Irish Water spokesperson said the company 'is now responsible for billing and collection outstanding debt from non-domestic customers for water service. As a regulated utility, Irish Water must ensure that our customers are treated fairly and equitably so it is essential that all businesses pay their bills in a timely manner. In common with other utilities, Irish Water has a clear and transparent approach to collecting overdue debt.
'Irish Water is committed to working with customers to ensure that a business account holder's water supply is only disconnected as a measure of last resort, when all other methods of customer engagement have been exhausted. Irish Water is actively contacting customers and visiting premises in a number of counties, including Wicklow, to avoid the need to discontinue supply due to non-payment.'
However, Councillor Pat Fitzgerald, Cathaoirleach of Arklow Municipal District said he was 'surprised' by the move.
'While there may be some businesses that are not paying water charges to Irish Water, it seems a bit drastic to cut water to businesses that are providing employment as long as they are engaging with the company,' Cllr Fitzgerald said.
The Irish Water spokesperson said the company may disconnect businesses who have unpaid bills for water or wastewater services. Water supply could also be cut if a business fails to keep up repayments under an agreed payment plan or if requested by the account holder.
'As a minimum, Irish Water will issue at least one direct disconnection notice in writing at least five working days in advance of carrying out a disconnection. No disconnections will be carried out on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, eve of a Public Holiday or a Public Holiday,' the spokesperson said.
They added: 'where an account holder has had supply disconnected due to outstanding debt and subsequently reached a settlement with us through a payment plan or payment in full, the normal supply will be restored. Irish Water is committed to ensuring the reconnection is carried out within two working days, subject to operational capacity.'
'Irish Water is committed to working with customers who are experiencing difficulties in paying their water bills and urge any customers who need to contact us to do so on 1850 778778 or 01 7072827.'