Utilities Regulator Warns Water Charges For Excess Use


The Commission for Regulation of Utilities has today, 17 July 2019, published a decision on Irish Water’s proposals regarding Household Water Conservation and the charging method for excess water usage by Irish Water Customers.

Conservation is one of three key themes and policy objectives set out by the Government Water Services Policy Statement 2018–2025. This is highlighted by the increasing water services demand and greater rainfall variability due to climate change.

  1. 7-10% of metered households currently using more than the 1.7 average domestic household allowance
  2. Proposal for an is aimed at encouraging engagement and conservation by Irish Water Customers
  3. Consumers have 12 months to address possible leaks and usage activity before receiving a bill.

This increase can be addressed by conserving supplies through reducing demand, eliminating both network and household leakages and wastage as far as practicable, and through the effective management of water and wastewater capacity.

Greater household water conservation and an excess usage charge is designed to promote conservation by addressing leakages within the household and discouraging excess use, thus ultimately reducing the costs associated with providing domestic water services.
In 2017, legislation was introduced which set a domestic household water allowance of 213,000 litres per year, which is 1.7 times the average amount of water used by a household of 125,000 litres per year.

The legislation also provided for an “excess use charge” for customers who use water above the annual allowance. The overall objective is to promote conservation and personal responsibility for water use and, where possible, identify and fix leaks in their water supply.
The CRU and Irish Water analysis indicates that approximately 7-10% of metered domestic households, or nearly 80,000 households, currently use in excess of this annual allowance. These households, many of which may have leaks, account for almost 40% of all domestic water consumption in Ireland.

To address this, Irish Water produced proposals on Household Water Conservation and the process by which customers can engage with Irish Water to address their water usage. These proposals were published for public consultation by the CRU on 12 March 2019.

The CRU has now approved these proposals, which include;

A procedure for Irish Water to assess, notify and, if required, charge customers for excess usage
A procedure for the treatment of metered and unmetered customers
A €1.85 unit rate charge per 1,000 litres consumed over the annual allowance (charge is per service of water and waste-water)
A capped charge of €500 for both water and waste-water (€250 for each service)
The full decision document and a summary of the Irish Water proposal can be found here on www.cru.ie.

Commenting on the decision Laura Brien, CRU Director of Water and Compliance said: “Conservation must play a significant part in addressing future resilience of the water infrastructure in Ireland. This policy clearly sets out how customers must be treated by Irish Water, if excess use is identified, and how customers will be given the opportunity to address this in terms of either fixing leaks or adjusting their consumption levels before any charges may apply.”