Water charges are effectively over with Minister for Housing Simon Coveney due to begin issuing refunds to those who had paid the controversial charges in recent years.
After a series of negotiations a new deal was agreed upon last night which includes a commitment to install water meters in newly built houses, a charge for excessive use and a “per household” allowance for average usage.
It is estimated tht around 70,000 a year will be hit with levies for “excessive usage”.
Every person will be allowed to use 226 litres of water per day before risking a fine.
Full details on what has been agreed can be found below…
- There will be an “excessive usage” charge whereby households that waste water will get a levy, not a penalty. Fine Gael believe this could be graduated so that the more water a home uses above a certain threshold, the larger the levy would be. This is radically different from the draft terms hammered out last week.
- New builds are likely to be metered. The advice suggests building regulations will decide on this issue. This ultimately kicks the can down the road on whether new builds will be metered,0 and how, by leaving the job up to new regulations. But Housing Minister Simon Coveney has already said up to 500,000 new builds could be metered over the next 20 years. This could see the reintroduction of mandatory metering. The advice says without this there is “a risk” the EU Commission “will not acknowledged Ireland’s efforts at complying” with its polluter pays principle.
- Legal advice suggests that excessive usage should be set at 1.7 times of what the average household uses. But it also says the average usage should be decided on household size and this should be in line with the average water usage, which is currently estimated to be 133 litres per person per day. The energy regulator though will ultimately decide the levies and amounts that people will owe and how much water they can use, depending on what the average household may be in years to come.
- The report from the committee is set to recommend, as already agreed, that a system of refunds be set up to give households back the €160m previously paid for charges under the old system. It has yet to be decided whether this will be paid in one big lump sum or by a tax credit.
Advice given to the committee also states that the terms and recommendations for the final report must say measures will be introduced to “provide funding certainty for the water utility”. This is to satisfy what the Government has also claimed is a guaranteed revenue stream for water.