Irish Water customers who are owed rebates for using less than their quota of water, or for having undrinkable supplies, can still claim their money back.
However, the money will be paid as credits to customer accounts which are in limbo following the Government’s suspension of household water charges, so it is unclear if customers will get to benefit from them.
Irish Water has moved to clarify arrangements with its domestic customers during the suspension period which runs to the end of March next year. The suspension is to allow the Government’s expert commission on water charges to examine if charges should be scrapped and, if so, how water services should be funded.
In the meantime, the company is encouraging customers to keep engaging with it on issues to do with rebates, discounts for being subject to boil water notices or undrinkable water, new connections, leaks, and other matters.
It says domestic customers whose metered water consumption came in at less than quota between January 1 last year to March 31 this year, but who were charged for the quota, can still claim a rebate so long as they do not have any outstanding bills.
However, it states: “Irish Water will apply the rebate as a credit to each applicable domestic customer’s account”. That presumes water charges will be reinstated at some stage.
The Commission for Energy Regulation, which is the regulator for Irish Water, also stressed that the relationship between Irish Water and the public had not been altered by the suspension of charges. “Those served by the Irish Water network remain Irish Water customers,” it said.
That meant the company had to provide all the services available before charges were suspended, and respond to complaints as before.
The commission on water, headed by former Labour Court chairman Kevin Duffy, has been meeting behind closed doors and is due to return with recommendations by the end of November.
Water charges remain an incendiary issue for the partnership government with Fianna Fáil saying this week it now wants charges permanently scrapped.
Meanwhile, a major demonstration is planned for Dublin this Saturday to demand the abolition of water charges once and for all.
The event, organised by the Right2Water campaign, comes ahead of the first trial of a protester charged with false imprisonment over the Jobstown demonstrations that saw then Tánaiste Joan Burton trapped in her car for up to two hours in 2014.
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