A CONFERENCE on water metering will be told that a national system needs to be urgently set up whereby all households who use a public water supply voluntarily register their connection with a local authority so they can be charged for their water.
Former chairman of the Cork region of Engineers Ireland, Kevin Murray, is arguing that it is possible to install 1.2 million water meters across the country over the next three years but that Fás needs to urgently train people as meter installation crews. He said such a move would get 500 construction workers off the dole.
Mr Murray, who worked on the national programme to meter non-domestic customers, has said that “a lot of time and unnecessary money could be spent searching for these customers and their connections” and that this must be avoided.
“I don’t think that the real challenge is in the installation of water meters. The real challenge for the local authorities will be to identify those getting water from the public mains, and where their pipes connect to the public main.”
Mr Murray, a consultant civil engineer, is due to speak at a Water Metering Conference in Dublin today, organised by CMG Events.
“If somebody avails of the public supply of water then the least they should do is acknowledge that they benefit from the service. Certainly those that register promptly should be entitled to a discount on water charges for a time; while those that try to evade registration should be penalised when they are caught.
“Such a registration system is loosely based on the NPPR scheme and could be used as a template for the registration and licensing of septic tanks in future.”
There are up to 1.8m householders using water but 600,000 are on private group schemes. Of the 1.8m householders, 900,000 are on public sewage schemes, 450,000 have septic tanks and the remainder have private sewage schemes or discharge directly to waterways.
Last year, Ireland was found to be in breach of EU law over its management of domestic waste water, according to a judgment by the European Court of Justice. The court in Luxembourg has ruled that every county in the Republic, with the exception of Co Cavan, has failed to comply with the 1975 EU Waste Directive calling for licensing of septic tanks and other treatment systems.
The decision could mean that local authorities will be obliged to roll out a massive upgrading programme on about 400,000 septic tanks.
The Department of the Environment has estimated that up to 9,000 jobs will be created through the installation of domestic meter boxes in advance of water charges being introduced. A further 1,200 jobs will be generated as part of a simultaneous three-year investment in pipe replacement.
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