Households face hundreds of euro in additional fees, if they suspect their water bills are too high because of leakage, rotting pipes or have concerns about water quality or water pressure.
From January, the average family of four will be paying up to €278 per year in water charges.
However, the Irish Examiner can reveal Irish Water also wants them to pay €188 per hour if an Irish Water engineer travels to their home in response to complaints about potential meter or waterpipe problems.
That figure will rise to €282 per hour if the request for a site investigation is made out-of-hours.
Furthermore, if a householder wants Irish Water to carry out pressure testing at their property, consumers will have to fork out €220, according to the proposed additional costs schedule listed in Irish Water’s water charges plan.
According to Irish Water, it will waive the fee if the suspected problems are found “to be the responsibility of Irish Water”, i.e. if the water quality is outside normal parameters or the water pressure defect is on its side of the boundary.
However, the fees will apply if improper fittings, pipe rot, or leakage is found on the customer side of the boundary.
The customer will have to pay for any repair works on their side of the boundary and it will be their responsibility to find suitably qualified tradesmen to complete such work.
All of the Irish Water site investigation fees will have to be paid in advance by the customer, or else will be added to their quarterly water charges invoice.
Irish Water defended the charges, saying similar fees were already in place internationally and in some of the country’s local authorities. They say they are standardising the system.
“These are standard utility charges and similar charges and services already exist for electricity and gas. For example, the special read charge for ESB is currently €66 excluding Vat,” said a spokeswoman.
“It is important to note that the below elements are Irish Water’s proposals and are subject to Commission for Energy Regulation approval.
“They also form part of the public consultation on water charges which is currently underway”.
Irish Water will also charge an additional €17 if a customer wants an additional meter read outside the normal meter reading schedule. It will charge €188 per hour for the site investigation at your home and €93 per hour for every subsequent hour the engineer is on site.
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