On the 1st of October, water charges are in force whether we like it or not. Although you won’t receive your first bill until January, it is important that you know your water allowances etc. so you don’t face one hell of a water bill in the New Year after a hectic Christmas. The reason why the government is introducing charges is clean water is expensive to produce, the government have little or no funds to keep sustaining the standard of our service and they wish to improve the water services in Ireland. We can argue for and against water introduction, regardless of the arguments it is being introduced on the 1st of October and we will have to pay, so it is important to know about the charge and what we will get for our money.
Every household is entitled to a free annual water allowance of 30,000 litres – which means the first 30,000 litres of water you use a year are free. You will be entitled to a higher allowance if you have children under the age of 18.
The Basic allowance is available only on your main residence- so if you own a holiday home, you won’t be entitled to a free allowance for that property.
For each child under 18 years of age you get an additional allowance of 21,000 litres per child.
The free child’s allowance is only available for children who qualify for child benefit. So if your child is 17 years old, working and not in full-time education, you’re unlikely to get the free allowance for that child. Adult children don’t qualify for the free allowance.
In January you will receive a bill for your water for the first three months of the scheme, a single person living on their own will be charged €48 and two adults will be charged €70. It is important to know your bill will be broken down between drinking water and waste water usage.
For 2015 a family of two adults will pay a capped charge of €278 a year for drinking water and wastewater, while a house with four adults will pay €482.
Why should you fill out the form??
Each Letter includes a form where you apply for your free water allowances. You won’t be entitled to your allowance if you don’t apply for it!!!
The reason you’re being asked for your PPS number is to verify your identity and to allow you to apply for your free water allowance.
If you have a private well or you are a member of a group water scheme and have your own private wastewater treatment (such as a septic tank) you will not have to pay the water charge. However you must still fill out the application to inform Irish Water so that they know you are not liable to the charge.
If you don’t pay for your water or engage with Irish Water to make payment plans, your allowances are removed or at a last resort have their water pressure reduced. You won’t be disconnected for not paying your water charges.
You can organise a payment plan with Irish water if you having trouble paying your water bill.
How can you pay?
- Direct debit, cheque, debit or credit card, electronic fund transfer or cash.
- Customers can pay by cash anywhere they see the Paypoint , PayZone or PostZone or PostPoint signs – or at any post office,”
Can I avoid charges by cutting back on water?
Yes, but it will be difficult to do so.
- About 75% of indoor home water use occurs in our bathrooms, and toilets are the single largest water users. Toilets use over 40% more water than needed. A old style flush toilets can use up to 13 litres of water in one flush to a dual flush toilet that uses six litres per flush.
- An automatic dishwasher uses 40L of water, compared to dishwashing by hand, which uses about 35L.
- Using a bucket of water to clean the car instead of the hose saves about 300L of water….each time!
- A five minute shower with a standard showerhead uses 100L of water, while a five minute shower with a low-flow showerhead uses 35L if water.
- A bath uses about 80L of water per use.
So it will be easy to burn through the basic free allowance if you flush an old style toilet six times a day, you will go through 28,470 litres of water a year. Add just two baths a year and you will go over your limit.
What about leaks?
A tap leaking one drop of water per second wastes more than 25L of water a day so that is over 9,000L a year! A running tap uses six litres of water a minute! So your yearly allowance could be wasted in approx. 4 days! Irish water are currently finalising their “free first fix” scheme. It should be rolled out early next year. So it is vitally important that your check your water meter for usually high usage. I would advise checking the water meter when you are away for a weekend to see if the usage changed over that period of time.
I am a landlord, what is my liability?
If you are a landlord, your tenants will be liable for the charge as it is the occupier you is liable for the charge. However, you will have to let your tenants know that they are liable for the charges – and instruct them to fill out the application form from Irish Water.
If your tenants refuse to fill out the application form, they won’t receive any free water allowance. What if tenants refuse to pay the charges? Irish water have stated that they would do their best to pursue the tenants for the charges however the onus would eventually fall on the landlords if they continually refused to pay. That could certainly be challenged in the courts as the liability lies with the occupier not with the landlord.
If you are a landlord you need to respond to the letter if the property is unoccupied or if you do not own the property and you will be liable to pay the unoccupied dwelling charge, which has yet to be confirmed by Irish water. The CER have proposed a charge of €80 for unoccupied premises.
I am a Business Customer. How will Irish Water affect me?
On 1st January 2014 the Water services (No2) Act 2013 came into enactment which means that Irish Water is now responsible for water services. However, the local Authorities will be working as an agent for Irish Water from 1st January 2014, so you will continue to contact your local Authority for water services billing and payment queries until further notice. From 29th April 2014 you will contact Irish Water for queries relating to your water supply etc. the cost to will remain the same for 2014 as you were charged for 2013.
If I have a medical condition or on social welfare, do I get a reduction?
Irish Water will ask people to “self-report” on medical conditions, which will allow them to reduce their water charges bill. This system is based on an honesty basis and is open to abuse. What medical conditions which will allow for a reduction is yet to be clarified. Joan Burton reported to the Dail that you would receive €100 a year paid quarterly as a reduction against the water charge. Is this reduction substantial enough has been argued in the Dail, especially if such families have a disposal income of €8.75 per week.
What if my water is not fit for human consumption?
Under the current scheme, people who cannot drink water provided by the State will received a 25% discount. If water continues to be unsafe for more than 3 months the discount will increase to 50%. Households, where drinking water is unsafe, still pay full price for waste water supply. In cases where households can provide their own waste water services, an initial 50% discount is applied when water is unsafe to drink and then a 100 % discount after three months.
Although the charges for water have not yet been fully decided and are due to discussed in the Dail, it is important you know your entitlements and how much income you need to set aside in January. This article we hope will have provided a little bit more information in an issue which will be flowing into your life in the coming months!
McDowell and Co Accountants –Stephen .St.- Sligo- 071 91 47580