The installation of water meters across the country will only result in a 6% saving in the amount of water an average family uses, the Commission for Energy Regulation has confirmed.
The small reduction in the consumption of water with metering will save just 22 litres a day — equivalent to one dishwasher cycle — for an average family.
Irish Water has supplied details to the regulator of the estimated reduced use of water by households from metering based on a survey it did of 1,600 households, the Irish Examiner can confirm.
TDs received details of the “metered billing effect” in writing from the regulator in recent days after a series of questions were put to its commissioners at the Oireachtas environment committee last month.
The Government is finalising an alleviation package for water charges which will be announced next Wednesday. It follows nationwide protests and calls for Irish Water and the levy to be scrapped.
One likely measure will be the delaying of bills based on actual water consumption. Families will instead be asked to pay a fixed or capped charge up until 2018.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny previously angered households when he said people underestimated the ways to save water when they could just “turn off the tap”.
“From simple things like washing teeth, like all the other things that happen, it’s possible to save and conserve huge amounts of water.”
But the revelation that the mass metering programme across the country will only save small amounts of water for households will dilute the claim by the Government that the whole Irish Water project is a conservation measure.
The entire metering programme is also set to cost €539m over the next two years, money which is being factored into people’s bills.
The regulator’s office last night confirmed the estimated saving of just 6% in water usage with water meters.
Irish Water said it was carrying out research, adding: “The influence of occupancy and occupant use surveys were conducted for metered properties but in advance of commencement of charges.”
An average household of two adults and two children are expected to use 137,100 litres per year, the regulator says, which reduces to 129,000 with a meter.
This is equivalent to one less dishwasher cycle or a reduction of 22 litres a day.
Enda Kenny last night told his parliamentary meeting the Coalition were finalising the water aid package and “trying to get it right” before next Wednesday.
One Fine Gael TD afterwards said: “They need to treat Wednesday like a budget. They have to get it right, if they don’t we’re all screwed.”
Environment Minister Alan Kelly told the weekly Labour meeting the Coalition was “stress testing” their water charge alleviation plans for next week.
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