09 Nov Water ration plan for those who refuse to pay utility bills
By Paul Melia
Wednesday November 07 2012
HOUSEHOLDS that refuse to pay their water charges won’t be cut off but may face the prospect of only having a supply at certain times of the day.
Bord Gais chief executive John Mullins said while charges were expected to be introduced from 2014, a disconnections policy was being worked out and it was “understood” that homes would not have their supply removed for non-payment.
However, the Irish Independent has learned that households that refuse to pay the charges may face sanctions.
These include having the unpaid bill registered as a charge against their property, experiencing a loss of water pressure — meaning washing machines and dishwashers could not be used — or having their supply rationed to certain times of the day.
A new company called Irish Water/Uisce Eireann will be established under the auspices of Bord Gais, taking responsibility for the provision, maintenance and upkeep of the State’s water system.
More than one million homes will be fitted with a meter, and bills will be based on the amount of water used after a free allowance is reached.
Properties which cannot be fitted with meters, including apartments, will be billed on the basis of an assessed charge which will take into account its size and the number of people living there.
Speaking to the Dail Environment committee, Mr Mullins said a public consultation on the charging system would begin next year and would include the amount of ‘free’ water to be allocated to households.
The needs of people with medical conditions requiring a high use of water, and families on low incomes, will also be taken into account by the Commission for Energy Regulation, which will act as the regulator.
“Bord Gais will be ready to commence domestic billing from 2014, however, as the committee will be aware there are a number of outstanding policy decisions that will be finalised in the coming months,” he said.
The metering programme is expected to cost around €500m.
– Paul Melia