The Irish Republic’s economic regulator has told the new parliamentary committee looking at water charging that Irish Water should ‘park’ installing water meters when the current contract runs out at the end of this month.
To date the state-owned utility has fitted meters at the properties of 58% of its domestic customers, around 884,000 homes.
“If a decision was taken to complete further metering then either significant additional funding would have to be made available or a significant level of necessary capital expenditure would have to be deferred from other priorities for water investment for the time period 2017-2018,” the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) told the committee.
CER has suggested that householders should be given the option of installing a meter which would entitle them to a tax rebate if they use less water than the average.
Last year an independent expert commission recommended that the majority of domestic water usage should be paid for through general taxation and only households using excessive amounts (currently estimated to be over 123 litres per person per day) should face charges. On that basis half of Irish households would face a special charge.
The Irish parliament has set-up a special committee to consider that prospect and other issues over domestic water charging and how Irish Water should be funded.
Irish Water told the hearing that it would need €239 million from the state in 2017 if bills were not reintroduced. It said it spends about €25 million annually billing the public.