WATER CHARGES ...12 QUESTIONS
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?