Environment Minister Alan Kelly has said that if people save 10-15% of water they use, they can "beat the cap" attached to water charges and that a meter "can only save a household money".
Single-adult households are set to pay €160 a year in water charges, while all other households will pay €260. The charges will be capped until Jan 1, 2019.
Households will benefit from the €100 water relief allowance, bringing charges down to €160 and €60 respectively.
Households with either a water supply only or sewage only service will pay 50% of the new rates.
Other measures announced this afternoon are:
- The first bills for water will be issued on April 1, 2015;
- Households who do not register with Irish Water will receive an automatic bill of €260 per year. Such households will also not be eligible for thwe €100 water-conservation grant;
- Registration with Irish Water has been extended until February 2, 2015, and PPS numbers will no longer be required:
Irish Water has been told to destroy PPS numbers gathered to date, with independent verification for data protection;
- It is the occupier of the premises who pays the bill. Legislation states the owner is the occupier unless the contrary is proven;
- The children’s allowance remains at 21,000 litres per annum and will apply to anyone living in a property aged under 18, whether or not the child qualifies for Child Benefit. The Minister said this meant children would continue to "go free";
- All children under the age of 18 will now qualify for the child allowance, rather than just those children under 18 in receipt of Child Benefit;
- The Minister also said there would be no call out or service charge from Irish Water. However, if there is an internal leak in a home, householders will have to call a plumber, ie "do what they always did", he said.
- In cases where water is unfit for human consumption, the affected customers will receive a 100% discount on the costs of their drinking water supply for the duration of the restriction. Therefore, customers will only be required to pay for the sewage treatment;
- Minister Kelly also said he intended to legislate to remove the power to cut off or cut to a trickle water supply for those who do not pay.
The water conservation grant
The water conservation grant replaces the tax rebate and social protection measures previously announced. Minister Kelly called it "a more straightforward means of addressing water issues for all households on equal terms and will reduce households’ outlay on water services both now and in the future".
The Department of Social Protection will administer the scheme on behalf of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. The detailed arrangements for its operation are being developed by the departments with an expectation of its being operational from September 2015.
To be eligible for the grant, householders - with any element of public water/sewage water supply or on group water schemes or with private supplies - must have completed a valid response to the Irish Water registration campaign.