WATER CHARGES ...12 QUES­TIONS

Bray People - - THE NOTEBOOK -

Why are domestic water charges be­ing in­tro­duced?

It’s part of our EU-IMF bailout pro­gramme. It costs in the re­gion of €1.2 bil­lion per year to de­liver a water sup­ply to Ir­ish house­holds. The in­ter­na­tional bod­ies want some of that money re­couped from the house­holds them­selves.

When will we start get­ting th­ese bills?

From some­time in 2014. The ex­act date has not yet been de­cided. Who will have to pay? Ev­ery­body who gets their water from a mains sup­ply.

I live in a ru­ral area and have my own well and pump­ing sys­tem. Will I have to pay charges?

Un­less some­thing changes, no. As the lo­cal author­ity does not in­cur any cost in sup­ply­ing you with water, you will not be asked to sub­sidise the cost of bring­ing it to oth­ers.

I live in a ru­ral area and cur­rently pay into a group water scheme. How will I be af­fected?

Like so much else about the new water charges, that is not quite clear yet, but pre­dic­tions are that al­lowances will be made for the money you al­ready pay.

Don’t we al­ready pay for our water sup­ply, through our other taxes?

That ar­gu­ment could cer­tainly be made. But the op­po­site ar­gu­ment is that peo­ple with their own wells, for in­stance, pay those same taxes and get no re­turn in terms of water sup­ply. On the other hand, some who cur­rently re­ceive a free mains water sup­ply don’t pay those taxes at all.

I live in a coun­cil house and am not li­able for the prop­erty tax. Will I be ex­empt from the water charges too?

No. Water charges are seen as sim­i­lar to elec­tric­ity bills in that there are charges in­curred in bring­ing you the ser­vice, and that you should there­fore con­trib­ute to­wards those charges. Sim­i­larly, no ex­emp­tions are en­vis­aged for those on so­cial wel­fare, the el­derly, etc.

What if I refuse to let them put in a me­ter?

Me­ter in­stall­ers don’t ac­tu­ally need ac­cess to your home. In just about all cases, the me­ters will be in­stalled at the junc­tion of the water mains to your pri­mary sup­ply pipe. In many cases in towns, this will be un­der the street or foot­path out­side your home. Okay, so if I just don’t pay? A restric­tor can be fit­ted to your sup­ply, so that water pres­sure will drop be­low what’s needed to run equip­ment such as a wash­ing ma­chine or dish­washer, or maybe even to have a shower. And you will face le­gal pro­ceed­ings for the money due.

What’s this talk about a ‘ flat fee’ in­stead of me­ters?

Not in­stead of. Rather, it is en­vis­aged that a flat fee will ap­ply in the first few years of charges, in cases where a me­ter has not yet been in­stalled, or in the long term, where an in­di­vid­ual me­ter for each dwelling can­not be in­stalled. An ex­am­ple of this would be an apart­ment block.

Would it not be fairer if we all just paid a flat fee?

Such a sys­tem would mean there would be no in­cen­tive to con­serve water and min­imise waste.

There’s no way around this really, is there?

No.

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