Water charges explained

Water charges explained


Since Wednesday water charges have been in place.

That means that every time you boil the kettle, flush the loo or take a shower you will pay for the privilage.

The whole thing has caused some controversy and confusion but we took this helpful advice from The Irish Times’ Conor Pope to help you understand why the charges have been implemented and, most importantly, what it will cost you.

Check out the Q&A below:

Hang on, have we not always paid for our water through our taxes?

Of course we have. It costs in excess of €1 billion to maintain our water supply and over the last three decades that money has been coming out of the general exchequer. Now, however there is a new water charge and the money it raises will be used to maintain our water supply instead.

So we can all look forward to a big tax rebate now that a billion euro of general revenue cash has been freed up?


Didn’t think so. Okay then, what’s the damage? Any change from what the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) announced last August?

Not really – at least not when it comes to the bottom line. Metered rates have been set at €4.88 for 1,000 litres of water – or just under half of one cent per litre – for homes which need both waste and drinking water services. If only one services is needed – if you have a septic tank or private water supply the rate of €2.44 per 1,000 litres applies.

Assessed charges apply to those who do not have meters installed and will be based on the number of people living in a home. It starts at €176 for a one adult home, with an extra €102 added for every additional adult. Children will not be included in assessed charges because they go free. The nearly 1.4 million new customers of Irish Water will pay the assessed charge for the next nine months

Hang on, what if I am on a meter and use less water than the assessed charge?

You will be given a rebate.

How will they know I used less – won’t they have to read my meter today?

No. The meter reading on the last day of every month is automatically recorded and stored for three months so the readers who check your meter at any point between now and Christmas will know what it was set at on day one and make adjustments accordingly.

What about allowances?

Every home gets an allowance of 30,000 litres. Homes with children under 18 will get an additional allowance of 21,000 litres per child.

How much water do we actually use?

Based on international studies, the average person uses about 52,000 litres of water. A typical power shower uses about 80 litres of water a go so if someone has one every day it will cost them 38 cents, or €139 a year. A power shower is the Rolls Royce of showers, however, and should not be confused with a regular electric shower. That uses about 40 litres of water and will cost about €73 a year. Flushing a toilet uses 10 litres of water and if one is flushed 10 times a day, it could end up costing €150 a year. Filling a kettle four times a day will set you back €15 a year.

I still don’t have a meter, when will I get one?

Around 400,000 houses have metres – slightly more than a quarter of all residential properties. An accelerated metering programme is continuing and they will be installed in about 80 per cent of homes by the middle of 2016.

Metering of apartments in complexes with a shared water supply has proved difficult but the Department of the Environment is exploring the potential to include a new phase of metering of 48,000 individual apartments. The metering is important because multiple studies show 16 per cent less water is used when metered.

Do I still have to pay for water if it is unfit for consumption?

The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has confirmed householders whose water supply is undrinkable will get an immediate 50 per cent discount on their water bills. They will still have to pay for waste water facilities regardless of water supply quality. If you have a septic tanks installed and the water is not drinkable you will not have to pay for any service until it improves.

When will my first bill arrive?

While metering starts tomorrow, Wednesday, the first bill won’t arrive until early January.

I have a medical condition so my usage is to be capped at the assessed rate. What proof do I need of my condition?

None. People will not have to provide evidence of the condition as Irish Water is planning to operate an honour system.

I am renting a house, what do I need to do?

If Irish Water has details of you as a tenant they will already be writing to you and if they don’t know you are renting, then the pack will be addressed to ‘The Occupier’. If a rental property is occupied the tenant is liable and if it is vacant the owner is. Both should advise Irish Water of change of status to the property – the tenant to cease liability, the landlord to take it up. It is important to remember that if you don’t have a PPS number you will not be given an allowance.

What about my holiday home? I am only there three weeks a year?

If you don’t have a metre installed the assessed charge will be €125 a year.

What about leaks?

If a leak is identified in a home by Irish Water after a meter is installed, the customer’s charges will be capped at the assessed level until the leak is fixed. Irish Water has previously committed itself to fixing the first leak free to avoid people paying the price for legacy water issues.

What are the chances of the charges increasing?

All we know about the current pricing structure is that it will last until the end of 2016. After that, who knows. Irish Water says it costs just under €600 per household to provide each home with water – the Government is subsidising the rest. So if that subsidy was to be reduced post 2016 then charges would rise. The average annual bill in the UK is €550, while German water charges can run to more than €700.

When will my first bill arrive?

While metering starts tomorrow Wednesday, the first bill won’t arrive until early January.

And if I don’t pay?

Irish Water says it is precluded in law from disconnecting customers for not paying their water bill. It does, however, allow for the supply to be restricted. It says such restrictions “will only be used as a last resort”.

What if I don’t return my form. How will Irish Water know I exist?

Irish Water will bill you first as ’The Occupier’ and will assume you are a household with two adults which means you pay €278 a year. However, they will also strip you of all the allowances including the allowance of 30,000 litres of free water per household worth €0.48 cent per litre) so your annual bill if you do nothing will be €424.

Can I evade this charge like a TV licence fee by refusing to reveal my identity to Irish Water and by refusing to answer the door if any of its representatives call?

Not for long. Irish Water said they can find out who owns properties using the land register and the owner will be deemed to be the owner occupier and liable to pay the charge. If the property is rented landlords are asked to encourage tenants to register with Irish Water.

There are 18 comments for this article
  1. Nicola mc gee at 7:20 pm

    very concerned about water charges . We are family of five 3 adults & 2 children under 18 , is there a maximum amount we would pay in a year !

  2. Ciara Furlong at 2:45 pm

    Why do i have to give my PPS No. to a private company??

  3. John cahill at 1:13 pm

    It is not clear from you Q+A above what charges apply for a vacent house.Can you please clarify?
    I currently have a number of houses vacent and on the market for sale. What is the procedure and what charges apply as there will be no water used until purchasers are found ?

  4. Noel Gacras at 8:16 am

    Your article states:
    “Hang on, have we not always paid for our water through our taxes?

    Of course we have. It costs in excess of €1 billion to maintain our water supply and over the last three decades that money has been coming out of the general exchequer. Now, however there is a new water charge and the money it raises will be used to maintain our water supply instead.”

    So the water charges are replacing the billion euro which originally came from the general exchequer or from us through our taxes. So what is happening to the billion euro paid through our taxes?

  5. John & Patricia Mather at 3:23 pm

    Received your email. We have received no notification or form to complete regarding the water charges. We have not got a meter as far as we are aware. The property is a holiday and is visited approximately 2 weeks a year,we understand that we are allowed to use a quantity of water before charges are applied.Can you please advise how we proceed from here.
    Many Thanks.

  6. michael guckian at 6:58 pm

    who is responsible for the water service.! is the main to the meter the water birds responsibility,then the meter to the property the house owner responsibility or does it all belong to the water bords.do you have to use the water bord to renew your water service or fix a leak or can you repair it !

  7. Donal Murphy at 5:25 pm

    I am a landlord. Irish water have written to me and stated ‘ if you, or the occupier of the property, do not complete the application…………………………..then the owner will be billed’

    Landlord caught as tax collector again.

  8. Philippa Flynn at 2:29 pm

    Hi – I’m wondering do you know or who do I write to ask them what should I do in this situation? We’re currently renting a house and have just bought a house. We received a letter to the rented house but none to the new house. I’m wondering where should we be registered as we will be moving house in the next 2 months? Thanks

  9. Michael Crowley at 2:25 pm

    Is it true that TD s do not have to pay these water charges on their second properties?
    Is it true that Senators have some form of exemption available to them?

  10. Carol McCormack at 2:09 pm

    I think it is unfair that the allowance is given per household. That means that a house with 1 person is allowed the same 30,000 litres as a family that could have 5 or 6 adults – leaving the allowance for a family of 5 adults at only 6,000 per year. It would have been fairer to give an allowance for each adult (as well as children) (or am I missing something here)

  11. Joe at 1:53 pm

    I was thinking of retiring to Ireland, but not now. I can’t see how anyone would want to come there and pay your outlandish taxes. I guess someone has to pay for the freeloading muslims and africans that you now have on your welfare rolls and mistakenly welcomed to Ireland with open arms.

  12. Paul Walker at 12:23 pm

    Line 2 privilege not privilage

  13. Edel Starr at 12:21 pm

    That answer is a bit vaugue “if the property is rented landlords are asked to encourage tenants to register with Irish Water” and in the same set of questions it states ” a rental property is occupied the tenant is liable and if it is vacant the owner is” – which one is it?

  14. Rita at 12:11 pm

    I have 3 children, students, who come back at weekends.
    Do I include them as occupants when registering?

  15. Gordon Steen at 12:01 pm

    As usual just like they did with the property tax the government have made a pigs ass of something that could have been run simpler and more efficiently.
    Firstly they have incurred huge costs in setting up this separate company, Irish Water, secondly they have incurred huge costs in providing homes with water metres, which will probably end up being paid by the individual householders., thirdly in fitting these metres they have disturbed roads and pavements which have not been put back as they were found.
    The simple solution would have been to have a set a global household charge where everybody pays the exact same, result no metres, no mess and no need to employ hundreds of people to oversee this mad process.

  16. Paul Verburgt at 11:50 am

    By when must we return these forms, we only received them the other day

  17. Neville at 11:46 am

    Irish water can fuck off because I’m not paying for a service that firstly I already pay for and secondly that’s undeemable for use,so Dennis obrien and enda jenny can shove there bill up there hole !!

  18. pat murphy at 11:20 am

    re leaks,

    I notice you say they will fix the first leak !!
    who pays for fixing leaks after the first one ??


Leave a Reply