Public meeting in Limerick as water charges come into effect

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Water charges have been confirmed
PROTESTS against water charges in Limerick are set to step up a gear with the charges set to come into effect from this Wednesday.

PROTESTS against water charges in Limerick are set to step up a gear with the charges set to come into effect from this Wednesday.

The Commission for Energy Regulation has announced that customers of Irish Water are to have their metered charges capped at an assessed rate for the first nine months of use.

The regulator has also revealed that home owners who receive water that is not fit for human consumption will not have to pay any water supply charge.

Under the charges announced today, a family of two adults and two children will pay an annual water bill of around €278.

There are two types of customer - those with meters who will pay for the water they use and those without meters who will pay an assessed charge.

Metered customers will be charged €2.44 per 1,000 litres, but charges will be capped at the unmetered rate for the first nine months of use.

Those without meters will pay an annual rate of €176 for a household with one adult, or €278 for a home with two adults.

Customers who live in areas where the water is unfit for human consumption will not pay any water supply charge, once a boil water notice has been in place for at least 24 hours.

However, they will continue to be charged for waste water services.

Meanwhile, people who own a second home will pay a charge of €125 on their non-primary residence, reduced from €160.

In Limerick, a public meeting to launch the Anti Austersity Alliance’s (AAA) We Won’t Pay campaign will be held this Wednesday night at 8pm in the Clarion Hotel.

Speakers will include Rob McNamara, of Mandate, Mary Honan, a resident in St Lawrence Park, Garryowen, where the metering was halted, and AAA councillor Cian Prendiville.

Mandate, UNITE, the AAA and others are organising a united national march against water charges in Dublin on October 11 - days before the budget - and several buses will be bringing protestors from Limerick.

As well as seeking to answer people’s questions about water charges, the organisers of the Limerick meeting say they will bring together various groups opposed to the charges and start to organise the “Limerick-wide resistance”.

“Water charges are simply one more bill we cannot afford,” said councillor Prendeville. “Our calculations show the average family could be facing an annual bill next year of €500, with households with four adults facing over €900.

“In reality, this is nothing to do with conservation, and everything to do with privatisation,” he said.

Key Changes to the Water Charges Plan:

- All customers will have their total water charges capped at the unmetered “assessed charge” for 9 months, extended from 6 months in the public consultation

- Customers will receive a 100% discount on the water supply element of their charge where the water is unfit for human consumption, once the boil water notice is in place for at least 24 hours. In other words, there will be no water supply charge to customers in this case

- Where a customer’s metered water consumption is shown to be less than the assessed consumption used in the assessed charge, a rebate will be given to the customer after a period of six months

- The annual minimum charge for a combined water supply and wastewater service at a non-primary residence has been reduced from €160 to €125 per annum, or €62.50 per service per annum

- Assessed charges are based on the number of adults in a household. This equates to a charge of €176 for a household with one adult and approximately an extra €102 for every extra adult living in the household, for both water services. The assessed charge is calculated on the basis 66,000 litres of consumption for a single adult household plus 21,000 litres for each additional adult. The charge is half for only one service

- A children’s free allowance of 21,000 litres per annum will be available per child. The CER will monitor consumption to ensure that the children’s allowance adequately reflects the normal consumption of a child

- Irish Water is currently rolling-out water meters to the majority of Irish households, and approximately 80% of households are expected to have a meter by the end of 2016. If a customer doesn’t have a meter yet, the customer will be on an assessed charge

- For more on this story see the print edition of the Limerick Leader on Thursday

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