Irish Water charge is ‘shrouded in secrecy’

by Gazette Reporter

A LOCAL north Dublin Fianna Fail representative has described Irish Water as being “shrouded in secrecy”, following reports that householders will have to pay a basic water charge before the supply comes into their home.
Cllr Darragh Butler (FF) criticised the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan and the Government for “deliberately attempting” to hide the true extent of proposed water charges until after the local and European elections in May.
Speaking to The Gazette, Cllr Butler said queries surrounding the water charges is a “major issue” that is coming up when he knocks on doors in the Fingal area as part of his re-election campaign.
He said that while the local property tax has already hit Fingal residents hard, they are now “very fearful” with regard to forthcoming water charges.
His comments follow media reports that Irish Water plans to apply a standard water charge of one-third of the expected average €300 bill, before a tap is turned on.
However, a spokesperson for the Department of the Environment said that no decisions have been made yet about the level of water charges, including any standing charge.
Cllr Butler said that he believes the Government are deliberately hiding the extent to which water charges will hit Fingal residents, and that it is only adding to their fears and concerns.
He said: “How are households expected to budget for the future when the true extent of the forthcoming charges are being hidden from them? Irish Water is deliberately shrouded in secrecy and this is simply not acceptable.”
Cllr Butler added that while approximately €800m of taxpayers’ money has already been pumped into the establishment of Irish Water, no money has been spent on fixing leaks, upgrading older water systems or on improving water quality in the communities that are still suffering chronic water problems.
The spokesperson for the Department of the Environment said that while no decisions have yet been made about the level of water charges, the Government will make sure the charge is fair and equitable.
The Department spokesperson said: “It is anticipated that the combination of policy decisions by the Government, and the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), including public consultation, will ensure that reduced consumption is incentivised and affordability issues are addressed in an optimum manner.
“The CER will decide on standing charges, in line with any possible direction from the Government, it will not be decided by Irish Water [whose] proposals are merely part of the CER’s forthcoming consultation on [a] tariff structure, which will commence shortly.
“There will be plenty of visibility around the likely level of charges in advance of charging commencing in October, and public consultation on all decisions will form an important part of the decision-making process.”

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